Powering Strong Communities

BPA Participates in New Western Power Pool Transmission Planning Effort

Noting that it is playing a major role in enhancing transmission planning capabilities to meet the region’s growing loads and renewable resource portfolio requirements, the Bonneville Power Administration recently said that it and other transmission operators will do this through the Western Transmission Expansion Coalition, a new transmission planning effort spearheaded by the Western Power Pool.

The recently formed WestTEC will focus on developing West-wide transmission solutions that address rapidly changing energy demands and future grid requirements.

The Western Power Pool, with participation from NorthernGrid, which Bonneville Power Administration is a member of, the California Independent System Operator, WestConnect, and other western utility and non-utility leaders will facilitate the regional planning initiative.

“WestTEC looks to explore an innovative approach for West-wide transmission planning that will result in an actionable transmission plan to address regional and inter-regional needs across the Western Interconnection,” said BPA Administrator and CEO John Hairston.

Hairston said Ravi Aggarwal, BPA’s director of Regional Transmission Planning, is on special assignment to represent Bonneville and provide leadership to the budding WestTEC. He shared that among the challenges the coalition faces are concerns that current transmission planning frameworks in the West are not producing sufficient solutions to meet regional transmission needs.

“We have to be different,” Aggarwal said.

WestTEC’s new approach to regional transmission planning will be broader than any previous regional effort which have not resulted in transmission builds, BPA said. It seeks to create a long-range, actionable transmission plan that can successfully deliver generation to loads, ensuring transmission reliability and resource adequacy requirements are met.

“The plan will be based on a single utility planning concept across a larger footprint while encompassing an array of scenarios and transparency,” Aggarwal said.

To accomplish this task, the coalition is focusing on the principles of being different, inclusive and expedient.

WestTEC is focusing on inclusivity to ensure multiple perspectives across decision-makers, policymakers, stakeholders, state regulators and Native American tribes are included in the development of the actionable plan.

Identifying a need for expediency, WestTEC has also established "achievable planning horizons with a short-term plan spanning 10 years and a long-term plan spanning 20 years," BPA said.

“Unless a plan is made for each of these time horizons, we won’t be able move into the implementation phase with a high degree of confidence,” said Aggarwal. However, he also noted the process will not replace existing transmission planning by individual utilities. Rather, it will complement them.

In alignment with their principles, WestTEC’s goals are to deliver on commercial and economic efficiency, improve affordability, support future cost allocation and strengthen visibility and coordination of the grid, in addition to being fair and unbiased to ratepayers.

WestTEC Selects Members of Regional Engagement Committee

Meanwhile, WestTEC on Feb. 27 said it has completed a major milestone in its organizational structure by selecting the members of its Regional Engagement Committee, or REC.

The REC is WestTEC’s primary stakeholder engagement group. It is responsible for reviewing proposals, scopes of work for technical studies and other deliverables, and for providing feedback and recommendations to the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee is WestTEC’s primary decision-making body, working with and taking input from the REC and providing guidance to the WestTEC Assessment and Technical Taskforce, or WATT. Members of the Steering Committee and WATT have already been selected.

The REC’s members represent various industry sectors, including consumer-owned utilities, independent power producers, independent transmission companies, public interest organizations, consumer advocates and Tribes. To ensure continuity between committees, there are also four official representatives of the Steering Committee serving on the REC. All members of the Steering Committee are invited to REC meetings.

In response to stakeholder feedback, some REC industry sectors and number of representatives were changed from the original WestTEC concept paper.

Members of the REC from consumer-owned utilities are: Chris Heimgartner, Whatcom County PUD, Matt Schroettnig, Northwest Requirements Utilities, Leslie James, Colorado River Energy Distributors Association, and Connor Reiten, PNGC.

NEW Topics