Thursday, October 10, 2013
Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (SPP), a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-approved Regional Transmission Organization that has functional control of American Electric Power (AEP)/Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) transmission construction, states that if the Shipe Road to Kings River 345-kiloVolt transmission line and Kings River substation is not constructed in a timely manner, risks to SPP and its members and neighboring utilities are numerous.
“Risks include both proactive and reactive interruption of service to consumers, higher congestion costs, and noncompliance with NERC Reliability Standards,” states an Oct. 1 filing with the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC). “SPP’s re-evaluation indicates numerous situations where services to consumers could be unexpectedly interrupted in response to a transmission outage or multiple simultaneous outages or where service would have to be interrupted preemptively during an outage of a transmission or generation facility to protect against potential cascading outages that could occur if another outage were to occur.”
The filing states SPP, which is made up of utility companies, has experienced real time transmission congestion in Northwest Arkansas and areas further east that are expected to continue to increase until such time the project is placed into service.
SPP said it performed two assessments for the facilities proposed: (1) the Ozark Transmission Study and (2) the 2007 SPP Transmission Expansion Plan (STEP) for 2008-2017 (2007 STEP). The OTS was a collaborative assessment of the SPP area in Northwest Arkansas and surrounding areas. The expansion plan resulting from the OTS was intended to serve as a road map for future transmission development in the Northwest Arkansas area.
“The 2007 STEP used updated models and load forecasts to determine system needs within the SPP region and identified when projects would need to be in service to meet those needs,” SPP said. “The contingency analysis performed in the 2007 STEP assessment identified that the Beaver-Eureka 161 kV and East Rogers-Avoca 161 kV lines overloaded for the contingency of the Flint Creek-Brookline 345 kV line. Since the Shipe Road-Kings River 345 kV line (also known as Centerton-Osage Creek 345 kV line) corrected the identified issues, provided a new strong source of power to the Osage Creek area and also fit into the long-range plan proposed in the Ozark Transmission Study, SPP recommended constructing this Project as part of the 2007 STEP to the SPP Board of Directors. The SPP Board approved the 2007 STEP on January 29, 2008 and SPP issued a Notice to Construct (NTC) to SWEPCO on February 13, 2008 with an expected in service date of June 1, 2016.”
SPP said need for the project was not predicated on only one contingency. The NTC reflected the single worst contingency identified in the 2007 STEP that demonstrated the Project’s need. The 2007 STEP and Ozark Transmission Study evaluated potential unavailability of hydro generation and transmission maintenance.
“The 2007 STEP identified reliability problems in Northwest Arkansas that required a transmission solution in 2016,” the filing states. “SPP staff and stakeholders considered other options, including lower voltage solutions to address these reliability problems, but, knowing the long term needs identified by the Ozark Transmission Study, ruled out those alternatives in favor of more robust 345 kV solutions that include the facilities proposed in this proceeding.”
SPP said it also performed a re-evaluation of the project using a model containing a more up-to-date representation of the future transmission system in June 2013. SPP said its re-evaluation confirms the need to construct the project.
“The issues identified in the NTC exist and the facilities to be constructed in this proceeding are still needed in 2016,” SPP said. Save The Ozarks (STO) expert witness Dr. Hyde Merrill has maintained that the need originally identified for SWEPCO’s project no longer exists and even if it did, there are other solutions that would cost far less and be much less disruptive to the environment.
SPP said Merrill’s alternatives are shortsighted and would not address long-term transmission reliability issues. “SPP’s current planning process is designed such that the long-term vision for the region is determined and then utilized to inform SPP’s shorter-term plans,” SPP said. “SPP’s planning process ensures that the transmission grid is developed not only to ensure reliability but also to ensure development in a way that yields greater levels of economic, environmental, and public policy benefits. If SPP does not do this, it would be more likely to develop solutions such as those proposed by Dr. Merrill that work for a short period of time but then soon thereafter have to be modified or replaced.”
STO has maintained that SWEPCO wants this $117-million project primarily for profit –the legally guaranteed 12 percent return on investment.
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