Recently, Nick Brown, president and CEO of Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (SPP), described SPP’s mission and services, and discussed issues facing the electric industry. SPP is a non-profit organization whose mission is, “Helping our members work together to keep the lights on…today and in the future.” SPP is authorized by the federal government to serve as an independent “air traffic controller” for the regional electric grid. SPP does not own generation or transmission infrastructure. It monitors the wholesale electric grid 24/7 to ensure electric reliability and coordinate regional response to grid emergencies. SPP independently operates a market in which participants can buy and sell wholesale electricity. It monitors the balance of supply and demand, and ensures the least expensive power is used to meet demand as long as reliability is maintained. The organization also provides “one stop shopping” for use of the region’s transmission lines, with consistent rates, terms, and conditions for all transactions .
SPP has 60 members in nine states, including utilities, power marketers, electric cooperatives, state and municipal agencies, and independent transmission and generation companies. The organization is building a new campus that will bring its 450 employees from three Central Arkansas locations together, with room to add several hundred new employees in the coming years. SPP is working with Nabholz Construction to build the 20-acre new campus in West Little Rock, which will include over 185,000 square feet of office space.
Electricity has a large impact on America’s economy: 40% of our nation’s energy consumption is used to produce electricity, and electricity drives 2/3 of our gross domestic product. Approximately 50% of our national and regional generating capacity is over 40 years old. According to Mr. Brown, “We need a broad portfolio of generation options to meet growing demand and reduce emissions. We need to build more transmission – a low-risk investment which will enable us to move our capital-intensive generation to where it is needed. If we invest in more strategic, enabling transmission, it will allow us to make the best use of our region’s diverse generating resources, including coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, and wind energy. Expanding the transmission grid will also allow us the flexibility to better manage many uncertain future scenarios such as carbon policy, varying fuel prices, growth in electricity demand, and state or federal policy goals.”
The CEO Luncheon was sponsored by Nabholz Construction Services. Thank you to them as well as Ye Olde Daisy Shoppe for providing the table centerpieces and Strain Photography for taking photos of the luncheon.