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A New Cost-Sharing Plan for Transmitting More Renewable Energy (Southwest Power Pool)

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-10 01:28 PM
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A New Cost-Sharing Plan for Transmitting More Renewable Energy (Southwest Power Pool)

A "highway-byway" plan for sharing costs of large high-voltage power lines, deployed last week by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) in Little Rock, Ark., could be one model for new federal transmission policy if Congress fails to produce climate and energy legislation this year, some congressional sources and industry representatives say.

Last Tuesday, SPP, a grid operator and power scheduler covering nine states in the Great Plains and lower Mississippi region, conditionally approved five new long-distance transmission lines based on the new cost-sharing plan. The lines would lower consumer costs and improve grid reliability -- and would permit a major expansion of wind power in the lower Great Plains region, SPP said.

If SPP's plan is accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it would set up formulas for cost sharing based on the size of new transmission lines. Costs for building the largest "highway" lines, with 300 kilovolts capacity or more, would be paid by utilities throughout the SPP region based on historical usage. Smaller lines -- the "byways" -- would be paid for partially or totally by local utilities and their customers.

Large high-voltage lines are required to move renewable power long distances to customers, but the power industry and members of Congress are deeply split on how to pay the billions of dollars it will cost for multi-state grid expansion projects.

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