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MISO and SPP to conduct interconnection challenges study

Transmission

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) announced plans to collaborate on a year-long transmission study to identify transmission projects with comprehensive, cost-effective and efficient upgrades. Both regional transmission operators (RTOs) aim to find solutions to generation interconnection challenges that customers experience in areas where boundaries, or seams, connect.

“A fundamental issue facing grid transformation is the lack of transmission at requested connection points,” said Barbara Sugg, President and Chief Executive Officer for SPP.

This joint study will focus on offering benefits to both interconnection customers and end use consumers of RTO member companies. While MISO and SPP have an existing Joint Operating Agreement that allows them to work through reliability issues, existing processes do not include the simultaneous evaluation of benefits, or allocation of cost, to both load and interconnection customers.

Each RTO’s existing interconnection processes will proceed as planned, according to the companies. Any projects identified by the joint study will need to be approved by the Board of Directors of the respective RTOs before moving ahead.

“Our member companies and stakeholders have told us that we need a better solution that prioritizes projects that address these gaps,” said John Bear, Chief Executive Officer at MISO. “Collaborating in this way gives us the opportunity to explore potential improvements within our own interconnection processes while informing longer-term regional transmission planning efforts in both MISO and SPP.”

Also, AWEA Central Region Electricity and Transmission Director Daniel Hall, CGA Executive Director Beth Soholt, and APA Senior Vice President for Infrastructure and Markets Steve Gaw yesterday issued the following joint statement on the MISO/SPP announcement: 

“This joint effort by MISO and SPP could be a gamechanger and is a new milestone in coordination between them, their Boards and executive leadership, and state regulators and other stakeholders. Working together, the two Regional Transmission Organizations can enable and expedite needed transmission development on their seam and address related generation interconnection challenges. Transmission is a critical component of developing wind and other renewable energy resources and delivering clean, affordable power where and when it is needed most. Coordinated transmission planning will allow consumers across the country to harness the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy. This forward-thinking partnership includes an aggressive, but achievable timeline and we pledge to provide any assistance necessary to support this effort. Our organizations have been advocating on these issues for some time through the stakeholder process and we are hopeful today’s action will be part of a broader concerted effort to modernize and strengthen the national grid for the benefit of consumers.”

The study is expected to formally begin in December 2020 and will include several joint stakeholder meetings to provide updates on the findings.