On July 16, Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s board of directors authorized the cooperative to join a regional transmission organization (RTO) – the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), subject to FERC approval of necessary documents. The decision reflects years of focused evaluation with Basin Electric’s members and its Integrated System (IS) partners, Western Area Power Administration and Heartland Consumers Power District.
Joining an RTO means Basin Electric and its members will have access to the market when Basin Electric’s system requires power or has surplus power to sell.
The board’s decision follows critical decisions by SPP and the boards of Basin Electric’s IS partners. On June 9, SPP’s board approved tariff changes making it possible for the Integrated System partners to join the RTO. Heartland’s board approved SPP membership July 8 and Western’s administrator approved SPP membership July 9.
Membership in SPP will not happen right away. Basin Electric staff will continue to work with its members, Western and Heartland to integrate into SPP by Oct. 1, 2015.
Membership in SPP was among three options Basin Electric and its partners collectively considered. The other options were standing alone outside its neighboring RTOs or membership in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).
“Standing alone posed challenges for us all when we needed access to markets in times of surplus or deficit power supplies,” says Paul Sukut, Basin Electric CEO and general manager. “We determined we cannot remain an island within our nation’s energy infrastructure. These limitations directed our focus to RTO membership.
“Ultimately, we needed to balance the needs of our members – from cost, transmission, market, philosophical and geographic standpoints. SPP satisfied those criteria,” Sukut said.
About Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Basin Electric is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative headquartered in Bismarck, N.D. It generates and transmits electricity to 137 member rural electric systems in nine states: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These member systems distribute electricity to about 2.8 million consumers.
About the IS
The IS is the backbone of the high-voltage transmission grid in the Upper Great Plains region of eastern Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. This jointly developed transmission system evolved from the 1962 Joint Transmission System (JTS) agreement of the Bureau of Reclamation with Basin Electric and 103 cooperative and municipal preference customers in this region.