Williston, North Dakota-based Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative (WEC) became the newest member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) on December 22.
SPP is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that manages the electric grid and wholesale energy market for the central United States. Joining the RTO will enable the utility to export power to other regions – which it has been unable to do before.
“It puts us into the marketplace,” General Manager Dale Haugen told The Bismarck Tribune.
Indeed, he told the newspaper, that expansion could someday mean that natural gas, which now is being flared in the oil patch of western North Dakota, could instead become cheap power for areas that need it.
“Let’s get it down to Denver and other areas,” Haugen said. “We couldn’t do that before, because we were not set up to drive out.”
Mountrail-Williams began considering joining the SPP after the Central Power Electric Cooperative – Minot became a member. “I kept learning more and more about it and the benefits it could bring our region….. I wasn’t going to let everyone else do it. It was getting on the train because it’s leaving the station and our region behind. I wasn’t letting the train leave the station without us,” Haugan told the Tribune.
Both utilities now have seats on the SPP Markets and Operations Policy Committee (MOPC), as well as the Membership Committee.
10“This partnership will allow MWEC to continue providing its members with the best electrical services possible,” commented Haugen in a formal company release.