Indirectly, WFEC, as a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), falls under the governance of regulatory and reliability organizations. As a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), SPP is mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). And, SPP is a regional entity of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
Below are summaries of each organization:
Southwest Power Pool
SPP is an RTO, mandated by FERC to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale prices of electricity. As a NERC Regional Entity, SPP oversees enforcement and development of reliability standards. SPP has members in nine states.
Another way WFEC is positioning itself for the future, thus increasing its reliability, is through participation in the SPP Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) that opened in February 2007. This market allows for further market liquidity, as well as additional purchase power opportunities.
- SPP covers a geographic area of 370,000 square miles, and as a Regional Transmission Organization manages transmission in eight states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- SPP has 58 members in the above states and Mississippi that serve over 5 million customers (some are wholesale customers). There are over 15 million people in the SPP region.
- In 2009, SPP members completed 98 transmission projects totaling $259 million.
- 2009 transactions in SPP's wholesale energy and transmission markets totaled $1.63 billion.
- SPP's 65,796 megawatts of capacity resources would power over 50 million homes.
- SPP cost = 30¢ of $100 residential bill
- The 50,575 miles of transmission lines in SPP's footprint would circle the earth - almost twice!
- Transmission Voltage Levels: 500, 345, 230, 161, 138, 115, 69 kV
- Generating Plants: 847, Substations: 6,079
- 2009 System Peak: 47,365 megawatts non-coincident (June 23)
- Coal - 35%
- Natural Gas - 26%
- Economy Purchases - 19%
- Hydro - 10%
- Other - 10%
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave FERC additional responsibilities as outlined in FERC's Top Priorities and updated Strategic Plan.
As part of that responsibility, FERC:
- Regulates the transmission and wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce;
- Reviews certain mergers and acquisitions and corporate transactions by electricity companies;
- Regulates the transmission and sale of natural gas for resale in interstate commerce;
- Regulates the transportation of oil by pipeline in interstate commerce;
- Approves the siting and abandonment of interstate natural gas pipelines and storage facilities;
- Reviews the siting application for electric transmission projects under limited circumstances;
- Ensures the safe operation and reliability of proposed and operating LNG terminals;
- Licenses and inspects private, municipal, and state hydroelectric projects;
- Protects the reliability of the high voltage interstate transmission system through mandatory reliability standards;
- Monitors and investigates energy markets;
- Enforces FERC regulatory requirements through imposition of civil penalties and other means;
- Oversees environmental matters related to natural gas and hydroelectricity projects and other matters; and
- Administers accounting and financial reporting regulations and conduct of regulated companies.
North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)
The mission of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is to ensure the reliability of the bulk power system in North America. To achieve that, this group develops and enforces reliability standards; assesses reliability annually via 10-year and seasonal forecasts; monitors the bulk power system and educates, trains and certifies industry personnel. NERC is a self-regulatory organization, subject to oversight by FERC and governmental authorities in Canada.
Unlike water or gas, electricity cannot be stored. It must be generated as it is needed, and supply must be kept in balance with demand. Furthermore, electricity follows the “path of least resistance”, so it generally cannot be routed in a specific direction. This means generation and transmission operations in North America must be monitored and controlled in real time, 24 hours a day, to ensure a consistent and ample flow of electricity. This requires the cooperation and coordination of hundreds of electricity industry participants.
NERC is responsible for aspects of an international electricity system that serves 334 million people, and has some 211,000 miles (340,000 km) of high-voltage transmission line. Transformers at substations step the electric voltage up and down to efficiently deliver power to the customers.
The generation and transmission components make up the “bulk power system”.
If you put dozens or even hundreds of these assets together, you get a “Balancing Area”, in which the balancing authority matches generation with customer demand, and the transmission operator monitors the flows over the transmission system and voltages at substations.
Balancing areas are defined by the electricity meters at their boundaries, which measure the power flowing into and out of the area. These areas are connected to each other by “tie lines.”