SPP’s MOP ‘Cleans Up Stuff’
GOLDEN, Colo. — SPP staff last week shared a proposed “modification oversight process” with its Western reliability coordination customers, much to the glee of those involved.
Given the industry’s fondness for acronyms, there’s always room for one more: The process was tagged as “MOP.”
“Mop it up!” advised SPP Operations Vice President Bruce Rew as staffer Clint Savoy prepared to explain the process during a Friday conference call with the Western Reliability Executive Committee (WREC).
“That’s what we use to clean up stuff,” Savoy said.
MOP actually borrows from SPP’s existing revision-request process to provide a means of managing document modifications (modification responses, or MRs) related to the RTO’s Western RC services. Savoy said it applies to documentation established by SPP or its working groups that might affect operations or have a compliance or financial impact on its Western RC services customers.
“MRs identify which governing document or specific section requires a review and approval, and by which groups,” Savoy explained.
The process establishes submission timelines, how to submit and respond to comments, and guidelines for public posting. MOP incorporates the impact analysis and recommendation reports familiar to SPP’s Eastern members.
SPP said in September it had signed contracts to provide RC services to balancing authorities representing about 12% of Western Interconnection load, effective Dec. 3. Peak Reliability, which has been the West’s RC since 2011, is winding down operations by the end of the year. (See CAISO RC Wins Most of the West.)
The Western Reliability Working Group (WRWG), which reports to the WREC, debated the MOP during a May 14-15 meeting in the Rocky Mountains’ foothills. As the primary — and currently only — SPP working group in the West, the WRWG will be responsible for taking one of five actions on any MR: approve, reject, table, withdraw or refer.
The WREC will be the final authority and can take the same five actions, the lone exception being remanding — rather than referring — an MR back to the working group.
The WRWG was unable to reach consensus on whether the executive committee should see every MR the working group approves or just those that aren’t unanimous. Members were also unable to agree on how the WREC would revise an approved MR.
“My concern with the process is the time consideration,” said Black Hills Energy’s Denton McGregor, the WRWG chair. “But with 40 [stakeholder] groups in the East, SPP seems to be managing [the process].”
The WREC discussed the same issues during its conference call before voting to require that all items needing approval be sent to the committee. Its members also agreed they should provide guidance when remanding MRs back to the WRWG.
“We should tell them exactly what were the concerns that led to the turndown,” Rew said.
“I believe the WREC exists for a reason,” said WREC Chair Keith Carman, of Tri-State Generation and Transmission. “We don’t need a strong hand of approval, but simply having these items come to us provides value. It gives us the ability to be aware of things that are changing.”
The MOP has yet to be approved. SPP is still gathering comments from Western entities with plans to gain the WRWG’s approval in June. Savoy is scheduled to bring a final version for approval to the WREC in July.
RC Still Needs Data-sharing Agreement
Lack of a final data-sharing agreement appears to be the lone sticking point in SPP’s plans to extend RC services into the West.
Peak currently operates under a universal data-sharing agreement (UDSA) that gives operating entities access to key data necessary for reliable system operations and meets NERC standards. CAISO has used that agreement and revised it to create a Western Interconnection Data Sharing Agreement (WIDSA) that it will use moving forward, SPP staff said.
SPP conducts its business in the East under NERC’s operating reliability data (ORD) confidentiality agreement. It has worked with CAISO to add language to the WIDSA that allows non-signatories to see some of the data but hopes to have everything resolved before shadow operations start in October.
SPP’s Yasser Bahbaz said the WIDSA acknowledges the ORD. “We’re in a much better place than we were two months ago,” he said.
Elsewhere, SPP remains on track to meet the go-live date with progress on a several fronts:
- The Congestion Management and Seams Task Force, one of three groups reporting to the WRWG, is developing a congestion management methodology that CAISO “can agree to as well,” Tri-State’s Michael Houglum said. “We’re getting close to this,” he said. “It’s already so much better than what we used to have [with Peak].”
- SPP staff are testing its custom R-Comm messaging system with the Grid Messaging System (GMS) used by the Western Interconnection’s other RC providers (the Alberta Electric System Operator, BC Hydro, Gridforce and CAISO). SPP and CAISO have also created a communication protocol whereby neighboring balancing authorities and transmission owners that lie across the seam can send messages using GMS or R-Comm, depending on their RC. SPP is also setting up an application programming interface (API) that will further enable messaging with CAISO.
- Staff said SPP will register as SPPW in the North American Energy Standards Board’s electric industry registry (EIR), effective Dec. 3. This will require SPP’s Western RC entities to designate the RTO as their RC before Dec. 21, when Peak plans to pull its EIR registration. Software developer OATI administers the web-based tool, which collects e-tags from registered entities that feed into the unscheduled flow mitigation plan.
- SPP has completed site visits with all the Western entities, helping increase the RTO’s familiarity with the region. “It gives us an appreciation for how they do things in the West,” Bahbaz said. The RTO will welcome visitors to its Little Rock, Ark., headquarters in the fall.
- An East-West system model is expected to go into production in July using a Western model based on a Peak model published earlier this year.
- SPP has been holding monthly calls with training representatives in the Western footprint. Operator training begins in September. Staff are discussing with CAISO restoration training in 2020.
Three major deadlines loom: the Sept. 1 completion of on-site RC certification, the Oct. 1 commencement of shadow operations with adjacent RCs and the Dec. 3 go-live to begin providing RC services.
SPP’s Reliability Plan Confidential, but…
Bahbaz told the WRWG that SPP’s reliability plan includes both its Eastern and Western footprints and should “hopefully meet the need of anyone interested in SPP procedures.”
However, those interested in SPP procedures will have to travel to Little Rock to view the plan.
“The plan has steps specific to SPP’s system, and SPP believes those are confidential to SPP,” Bahbaz said. “We will show the procedures to anyone who comes to [our] control room.”
“We can follow directions just fine,” Houglum said. “It helps everybody’s knowledge if we understand why you’re asking us to do certain things in certain instances. Any background information we have allows us to execute those decisions better.”
Working Group Revises its Charter
The WRWG made several changes to its charter, adding clarity to term limits for the group’s leadership and its voting structure.
Members agreed to limit the chair and vice chair to two-year terms, with the initial term beginning in January 2019. Elections will be held at the end of the calendar year. Should one of the positions become vacant before the term expires, a special election will be conducted during the next regularly scheduled meeting.
The WRWG also revised the charter to include the use of a simple majority (greater than but not equal to 50%) of those present and voting to determine motion outcomes.
“SPP wants engagement,” McGregor said. “You need to be present and take part if you want your voice heard.”
Other charter revisions eliminated the need to reach a unanimous decision before requesting feedback from the WREC and added the ability to review and approve or reject revisions to applicable documents in accordance with the MOP, and to provide recommendations and escalate to the WREC items requiring financial consideration.
WRWG Members: Coordinating Communication Helpful
Working group members found the discussion beneficial, even if they did spend considerable time trying to determine whether abstentions count against a unanimous vote. “An abstention is not a vote,” said Colorado Springs Utilities’ Warren Rust, stating the group’s consensus position.
“This is all related to coordinating and communicating activities,” McGregor said. “There are a lot of moving parts and pieces to everything, not just with SPP, but here in the West. This keeps us informed.”
“Oh yes, this is helpful, just having come and hearing the discussion,” said Linda Jacobson-Quinn of Farmington Electric Utility System in New Mexico. “It’s the good old theory that if there were no communication at all, we wouldn’t be able to build the things we need in order to ensure reliability.”
Savoy, SPP’s senior interregional coordinator, said the RTO’s significant progress in offering RC services to the West is “a direct result of the engagement of stakeholder groups.”
“I think the representatives all agree that our collective success is dependent on solidifying relationships and promoting collaboration between entities,” he said. “That’s where SPP believes we provide significant value to our stakeholders.”
— Tom Kleckner