July 8, 2022

Southwest Power Pool keeps the lights on as region sets new record for electricity use

Diverse energy resources and robust market play key roles in ensuring regional reliability

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. — With much of the central U.S. under heat advisories and warnings, regional grid operator Southwest Power Pool (SPP) partnered with its member utilities to keep the lights on for millions of people over several days of record-setting electricity use and high temperatures.

At 4:30 p.m. Central time July 5, 2022, SPP’s region reached a new all-time peak load of 51,090 megawatts (MW), exceeding the previous record for instantaneous demand for electricity of 51,036 MW set July 28, 2021. Highlighting the important role fuel diversity plays in ensuring electric reliability, at the time of the new record SPP relied on a mix of energy sources including traditional fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear power and other types of generation. Demand response contributed 1.1 MW to the fuel mix.

Days in advance, SPP anticipated high electricity use across its region during a period of extreme heat. On Friday, July 1, it declared a Conservative Operations Advisory effective at noon July 6 through 10 p.m. July 8. This advisory signaled to its member utilities a need to operate the regional grid with extra care by doing things like postponing maintenance on critical facilities, increasing reserve requirements and more. SPP and its members maintained reliability and through two of the hottest days of the year so far as regional load peaked at 49,972 MW July 6 and at 50,230 MW July 7.

“Electricity continues to play a more and more important role in the daily lives of the people that live in our region,” said SPP senior vice president of operations Bruce Rew. “At the same time, preventing service interruptions has become a more and more complex challenge. Periods like this week, with extreme heat affecting so much of the country where we operate, underscore how much value there is in regional collaboration. We’re proud of the job we do coordinating among our member utilities to keep the lights on through careful reliability coordination, thoughtful and thorough system planning, and administration of a stakeholder process that ensures mutually beneficial decisions are made regarding things like resource adequacy, cost allocation and market design.”

As a regional transmission organization (RTO) and balancing authority (BA), SPP is responsible for keeping the regional supply of electricity in balance with demand across a 14-state service territory in the central U.S. that stretches from the Canadian border in North Dakota to the panhandle of Texas. It does so by monitoring and forecasting minute-by-minute electricity use and dispatching energy from more than 900 utility-owned generating units to meet demand. SPP also oversees operation of more than 70,000 miles of extra high-voltage transmission lines over which electricity flows from where it’s produced to the substations where it’s distributed by local utilities to homes and businesses.

As the summer progresses, SPP will continually monitor changing conditions and threats to reliability. All changes in regional grid conditions, including declarations of advisories and alerts, are communicated via SPP’s Grid Notice Exploder, to which anyone can subscribe on their SPP.org account page.

About SPP:  Southwest Power Pool, Inc. is a regional transmission organization: a not-for-profit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. states and provides energy services on a contract basis to customers in both the Eastern and Western Interconnections. The company’s headquarters are in Little Rock, Arkansas. Learn more at SPP.org.

Meghan Sever, (501)482-2393, msever@spp.org