In keeping with its 2010 strategic plan to build a robust transmission system and develop efficient energy markets, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) board of directors approved a near-term transmission expansion plan that will result in the construction of US$251 million in new transmission projects needed to maintain reliable supplies of electricity across its nine-state region. These projects are expected to be constructed over the next five years.

The board also approved a 10-year transmission expansion plan, with projects estimated at about $1.5 billion of engineering and construction costs that are expected to provide $834 million in net regional savings over 40 years.

The approved suite of projects are a result of SPP's Integrated Transmission Planning (ITP) process, which is an iterative three-year cycle that includes 20-year, 10-year and near-term assessments, and targets transmission expansion solutions that meet reliability, policy and economic needs within the region.

“This is the second year for us to use the ITP process, and it reflects well on the collaborative, member-driven focus of SPP,” said SPP President and CEO Nick Brown. “Our transparent approach includes state regulators who serve on the SPP Regional State Committee (RSC). The RSC has substantive authority to direct policy changes on behalf of ratepayers and influence important regulatory issues such as how costs of new transmission are allocated in the SPP region.”

The project portfolio from the ITP 10-year assessment is expected to mitigate more than 61 reliability issues, enable every state within SPP to meet its renewable goals while reducing CO2 emissions and provide regional energy savings that allow utilities to supply their customers' needs more economically. The plan calls for 786 miles (1,265 km) of 345-kV lines, 124 miles (200 km) of 230-kV lines and 15 transformers.