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Southwest Power Pool Details Plans for This Month’s Eclipse

Southwest Power Pool recently detailed how it is preparing for the effects of the April 8, 2024, eclipse.

The grid operator told Public Power Current that its Little Rock, Arkansas headquarters lies directly in the eclipse’s path of totality, and the majority of its service territory will experience 50-75% eclipse coverage.

“As such, SPP has planned for the eclipse’s impact to both its enterprise operations and the reliability of the regional power grid,” it said.

Officials expect a massive influx of people in the central Arkansas region that is home to SPP’s offices and most of its staff. SPP is thus closely coordinating with state officials regarding expected impacts to traffic, communications, and more.

“SPP is confident it will be able to conduct business as usual on April 8,” it said.

SPP expects no significant impacts to the grid. While still early for a reliable weather forecast, SPP has evaluated worst-case scenarios that consider the maximum loss of SPP’s region-wide solar resources.

Across the 14-state region in which SPP is responsible for balancing electric supply and demand, there are approximately 500 megawatts of solar generating capacity connected directly to the grid, with additional distributed solar resources providing energy directly to consumers.

Analysis has shown that the eclipse’s total net impact to available generating capacity -- including grid-connected and distributed solar -- should remain below 1 gigawatt.

SPP noted that it has ample generating capacity provided by other resources (e.g. coal, natural gas, wind, nuclear, hydro, and others) to make up for this loss, and expects modest demand for electricity that day. Historically, region-wide demand for electricity in the SPP region in early April has typically peaked below 33 GW.

The Desert Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, where SPP provides reliability coordination services, expect impacts similar to those experienced during the October 2023 partial eclipse. 

While SPP doesn’t expect significant impacts to electric reliability in its region, it remains in constant contact with its member utilities, neighboring reliability coordinators, and peers across the nation.

Other grid operators recently provided details on their plans for the eclipse and potential impacts on their respective grids.

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