SPP transition changes daily operations at Heartland

November 3, 2015

Heartland has fully and successfully operated within the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) for one month, after functional control of the Integrated System was turned over October 1. Operation within a regional transmission organization is a historic change for Heartland and has required some operational changes in the way we conduct business.

Jones SPP Quote-new“The most significant changes since beginning operation within SPP are how we operate our generation facilities and handle coordination with WAPA,” said Heartland Chief Operations Officer Nate Jones. “We no longer need to coordinate our daily position for our load position or operating specifics for our resource units. Instead, we are now responsible for the units’ scheduling requirements.”

Energy Scheduler McCord Stowater is responsible for developing and submitting load and generation schedules for all three of Heartland’s resource units: Whelan Energy Center Unit 2 in Hastings, NE; Laramie River Station in Wheatland, WY; and the Wessington Springs Wind Energy Center (WSW Energy Center) in Jerauld County, SD. The process can be elaborate due to the reliance on outside influences.

“There are many factors to consider when scheduling generation, such as current unit capabilities, wind and weather forecasts, load forecasts, and current market conditions and prices,” Stowater said.

Heartland also acquired additional duties on behalf of our customers who receive WAPA allocations within both the SPP and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) markets.

“Although we are not required to physically perform scheduling for WAPA, we are responsible for creating forecasts and producing load schedules to be used by WAPA for their daily scheduling,” said Stowater.

Adam Graff, left, and McCord Stowater
Heartland Director of Power Supply Adam Graff, left, and Energy Scheduler McCord Stowater

Director of Power Supply Adam Graff must now ensure Heartland’s power supply is in compliance with market guidelines and utilize his knowledge of the market conditions to prepare Heartland’s power supply used to set rates and make financial projections. Graff also handles all of Heartland’s communication infrastructure, which is critical in SPP’s fast-paced market environment.

“Ensuring we have the proper infrastructure in place to read customer load meters as well as determine generation output at any given time is vital for daily business in SPP,” said Graff. “SPP’s market settles every five minutes, resulting in settlement statements for all of Heartland’s resources as well as the customer load. These settlements carry a lot of data, and proper communication infrastructure will ensure charges and credits are properly invoiced per our market activity.”

In addition to altering market operations, integration into SPP requires more involvement from Heartland staff in various SPP working groups.  In order to protect Heartland’s interests as well as remain educated on the market construct, Heartland participates in the Market Operations and Policy Committee, Market Working Group, Capacity Market Task Force, Compliance Committee and Members Committee, among others.

“The past month has been a significant change for Heartland–one that we’ve been preparing for for years,” added Jones. “There will be an adjustment period, but overall we expect the SPP market to provide greater flexibility for buying and selling power as well as increase price transparency and efficiency.”

From left to right: Graff, Stowater and Jones in Heartland's operations center.
From left to right: Graff, Stowater and Jones in Heartland’s operations center.

Jointly owned by Heartland, WAPA and Basin Electric, the IS covers a seven-state area, consists of over 9,300 miles of transmission line and is operated by WAPA. With the inclusion of the IS, SPP’s footprint spans almost 575,000 square miles in all or parts of 14 states in the central U.S. and includes more than 800 generating plants, nearly 5,000 substations and about 56,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.