Powering Strong Communities

Colorado Springs Utilities to join Southwest Power Pool’s Western Energy Imbalance Service Market

Public power utility Colorado Springs Utilities on May 12 said it will join Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) Western Energy Imbalance Service (WEIS) Market in April 2022 and join other western utilities in evaluating membership in SPP’s regional transmission organization (RTO).

“Our current portfolio of solar compliments SPP well,” said Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin in a statement. “We expect to save customers money by optimizing the dispatch of different utilities’ generating resources within each hour of the day. Our employees will also benefit from increased market intelligence, better integration of our new solar projects and being one step closer to meeting our clean energy goals.”

In June 2020, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board approved a new sustainable energy plan, which calls for Colorado Springs Utilities to reduce carbon emissions at least 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. Additionally, the plan increases renewable energy and incorporates storage resources. It benefits customers by maintaining competitive and affordable rates and advances energy efficiency, the utility notes.

SPP launched its WEIS market Feb. 1, 2021. The wholesale electricity market balances regional supply and demand of electricity in real-time. Colorado Springs Utilities will join eight other western utilities already participating in the WEIS.

SPP is already coordinating an effort by several western utilities — all current participants in the WEIS market — that are evaluating membership in its RTO, and Colorado Springs Utilities will join this effort too.

While SPP administers the WEIS market on a contract basis to non-members, it provides RTO members an entire suite of valuable services including market administration, transmission planning, reliability coordination and more. A recent SPP-Brattle study estimated the WEIS participants’ move to RTO membership would produce $49 million in benefits and those would grow with additional western members.

Colorado Springs Utilities plans to work with the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), a current SPP WEIS participant, to act as its balancing authority.

A balancing authority is required to enter WEIS as they are responsible for operating a transmission control area. They match generation with load and maintain consistent electric frequency to the grid, even during extreme weather conditions or natural disasters.

The evaluation of membership is expected to conclude in early 2022, with the terms and start dates of any interested parties’ membership agreement to be announced then.

WAPA’s Colorado River Storage Project to explore membership in SPP

SPP recently received a letter from WAPA’s Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP) expressing interest in evaluating membership in the organization.

In November 2020, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Deseret Power Electric Cooperative, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and WAPA’s Upper Great Plains-West and Loveland Area Projects notified SPP of their intent to evaluate membership in the RTO.

The entities’ letters indicate they will work with SPP to evaluate the terms, costs and benefits of putting western facilities under the RTO’s tariff.