Understanding Southwest Power Pool Advisories

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), as a regional transmission organization (RTO), reliability coordinator (RC), and balancing authority (BA), has the role of balancing generation and load – or electric supply and demand – for a 14-state region from North Dakota to the Texas panhandle. SPP also ensures there’s always enough additional energy available in reserve to call on in contingencies, as constant planning for any unexpected situation is an important task. 

With several SPP advisories called recently, the below information serves as a reminder of action that may be required in each designation. 

Advisories and/or Energy Emergency Alerts are issued if conditions exist that may require SPP to operate its system conservatively based on weather, environmental conditions, operational factors or other events that may create limitations, fuel shortages or concerns. 

Generally, the Advisories do not require any public action, rather just signal a possibility of further steps if conditions change or worsen. If an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) becomes necessary, oftentimes, conservation efforts will be strongly encouraged, with public appeals to help avoid future issues. EEA levels designate the seriousness of conditions. 

Descriptions of common reliability events are below in increasing order of severity: 


Normal Operations: SPP has enough generation to meet demand and available reserves, and it foresees no extreme or abnormal threats to reliability. 

Weather Advisory: Declared when extreme weather is expected in SPP’s reliability coordination service territory. 

Resource Advisory: Declared when severe weather conditions, significant outages, wind-forecast uncertainty and/or load-forecast uncertainty are expected in SPP’s balancing authority area. 

Conservative Operations Advisory: Declared when SPP determines there is a need to operate its system conservatively based on weather, environmental, operational, terrorist, cyber or other events. 

Energy Emergency Alert Level 1: Declared when all available resources have been committed to meet obligations, and SPP is at risk of not meeting required operating reserves. 

Energy Emergency Alert Level 2: Declared when SPP can no longer provide expected energy requirements, or when SPP foresees or has implemented procedures up to, but excluding, service interruptions to maintain regional reliability. 

Energy Emergency Alert Level 3: At this level, SPP is utilizing operating reserves such that it is carrying reserves below the required minimum and has initiated assistance through its Reserve Sharing Group. SPP foresees or has implemented firm load obligation interruption. Before requesting an EEA 3, SPP will have already provided the appropriate internal notifications to its Market Participants. 

Restoration Event: Defined as a major or catastrophic grid outage, which could be a total or partial regional blackout, island situation or system separation.