Operating Reliability

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The reliable and continuous flow of electricity to our homes and businesses is vital to our economic health and quality of life. It’s our job to keep eyes on our system, determine the best course of action to address contingencies and keep the power flowing as best we can around the clock.

Today, we’re one of 13 reliability coordinators in the Eastern Interconnection, tasked by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Standard IRO-014-3 to preserve the reliability benefits of interconnected operations and coordinate such that none may adversely affect another’s area of jurisdiction.

We act as the reliability coordinator for a territory that includes all or part of 14 states and reaches from the Canadian border to the Texas panhandle. We manage a broad and diverse roster of members across a geographically expansive footprint, both of which pose unique and numerous operational, regulatory, environmental and political challenges that have helped shape and hone our transmission system, processes and tools.

SPP also is experienced in establishing seams agreements in areas of congestion management with neighboring market and non-market entities and development of tools that support interconnection-wide congestion management and seam coordination.

SPP's Operating Reliability Functions

SPP is registered with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) as a reliability coordinator (RC), balancing authority (BA), transmission service provider (TSP) and reserve sharing group (RSG) administrator.

Reliability Coordination

SPP acts as an RC for transmission operators (TOPs), generator operators (GOPs) and BAs. RCs act as air-traffic controllers overseeing the interconnected operations of the power grid. They ensure reliable delivery of electricity to consumers by maintaining a wide-area view of the grid’s current state and future conditions.

In December 2017, SPP celebrated 20 years of reliability coordination. In one way or another, SPP has coordinated electric reliability on behalf of our region since we formed in 1941. We’ve demonstrated throughout our existence an exceptional ability to coordinate the numerous personnel, systems and complex processes that work together to keep the lights on.

For more information about SPP's reliability coordination services, view our We are Reliability: SPP Reliability Coordination video. 

Reliability Coordinator (RC)

The RC footprint is comprised of those Balancing Authorities and Transmission Operators for which SPP acts as a Reliability Coordinator (RC is a NERC designation).

The SPP RC footprint includes the SPP Balancing Authority Area (defined below); SPP Transmission Owners; and the Southwestern Power Administration, a BA in the Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO) Regional Entity. 

Balancing Authority

SPP serves as a BA for selected TOPs and GOPs. As a BA, SPP maintains the balance of generation and load in real time, forecasting electricity use and ensuring there is enough electricity generated moment by moment to meet that need.

Balancing Authority Area

The Balancing Authority (BA) Area is comprised of those entities who served as BAs before Southwest Power Pool became the region’s Consolidated Balancing Authority. These “legacy” BAs are:

  • American Electric Power
  • City Utilities of Springfield
  • City of Independence Power & Light, MO
  • Board of Public Utilities, Kansas City, KS
  • Empire District
  • Grand River Dam Authority
  • Westar Energy
  • Kansas City Power & Light
  • KCPL Greater Missouri Operations Company
  • Lincoln Electric System
  • Midwest Energy
  • Nebraska Public Power District
  • Oklahoma Gas & Electric
  • Omaha Public Power District
  • Southwest Public Service
  • Sunflower Electric Power Corporation
  • Western Farmers Electric Cooperative
  • Western Area Power Administration (TOP and pre-Integrated System BA)

Transmission Service Provider

SPP is registered with NERC as a TSP for the SPP Open Access Transmission Tariff. SPP administers the provisions of the tariff and provides transmission service to transmission customers under the applicable transmission service agreements.

Reserve Sharing Group

As a reserve sharing group, SPP maintains, allocates and supplies operating reserves for use in emergency recovery situations. The continuous operation of the bulk power system requires electric reserves be kept online and available to use to provide protection against contingencies. Operating reserves can be used to regulate load changes and prevent the need to shed firm load or curtail firm power sales.

Reserve Sharing Group

The Reserve Sharing Group footprint is comprised of the SPP BA and certain other BAs who have contracted with SPP to provide them with Reserve Sharing services.

  • Associated Electric Cooperative
  • Southwestern Power Administration
  • Southwest Power Pool

Operating Reliability Related Governing Documents

SPP Operating Criteria and Appendices
SPP RC Outage Coordination Methodology
SPP Reliability Coordinator and Balancing Authority Operating Instruction Communications Protocols
Required Data Specification for the SPP Reliability Coordinator and the SPP Balancing Authority
SPP RC Area SOL Methodology
SPP Reserve Sharing Group Operating Process
Seams Agreements

*Links to the Governing Documents described above can be found in the menu on the right side of this page.

Related Org Groups

Operating Reliability Working Group (ORWG)
Operations Training User Forum (OTUF)
Reliability Compliance Advisory Group (RCAG)

Operating Reliability Staff

SPP continuously supports operating reliability with six rotating shifts of 11 real-time operators.  These real-time operators provide constant monitoring of the electric system to ensure reliability.

Management and Support Staff

In addition to the real-time operators, operating reliability is supported by about 100 additional management and support staff.