Three public power utilities in Nebraska have signed membership agreements with Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (SPP), a regional transmission organization headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. SPP submitted the membership applications to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The three utilities plan to complete, by April 1, 2009, transition activities such as installing IT infrastructure and training staff, so they can fully participate in SPP services.

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Lincoln Electric System (LES), and Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) began analyzing options for membership in a regional transmission organization last year. “Membership in SPP will be beneficial to the electric customers in our service areas by providing each of our utilities with more operational flexibility as part of a larger, regional service area,” said NPPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Pat Pope. “NPPD and the other utilities are glad to find common ground.”

“We are very pleased that the Nebraska utilities are pursuing membership in SPP,” said SPP President and CEO Nick Brown. “This is a great opportunity for enhanced coordination throughout the mid-section of the country as we address transmission expansion and more efficient operation of the electric grid.”

SPP has members in eight states, with the northern edge of its service territory bordering Nebraska. “Geographically, as well as organizationally and financially, OPPD’s decision to join SPP made the most sense,” said OPPD President and CEO Gary Gates. “Being part of the same organization as other Nebraska utilities will help strengthen the reliability of the transmission grid in this region and provide access to a larger marketplace, improving overall operational effectiveness.”

“It is a testament to the good relationships that exist in the public power industry that we were able to assess this situation individually, but come up with a result that, in the end, benefits all the customers in our respective service areas,” said LES Administrator and CEO Terry Bundy. “Staff in our respective utilities will have a lot to learn as we become integrated into this new entity, and it is good to know that other public power utilities are going through the same thing and are only a phone call away. We hope to share lessons learned.”