Home » NEWS » Energy » New power grid manager poised to open

New power grid manager poised to open

LITTLE ROCK — A nonprofit company that manages the power grid from the Gulf Coast to Manitoba unveiled a new operations center in Arkansas on Tuesday, saying it moved to the state because it’s not prone to hurricanes and has an increasingly talented workforce.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator control room will manage power production and transmission in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. It is linked to similar MISO (MY’-soh) centers in Indiana and Minnesota, and each can take over for another in an emergency.

MISO doesn’t generate electricity or own the power lines, but works like an electrical traffic cop to move power from through the grid. President and CEO John Bear likened the $22 million building to an air traffic control center with toll gates — trying to make sure that power production meets demand.

“Trying to provide low-cost energy to consumers is a great cause,” Bear said.

Vice President Todd Hillman said Arkansas’ recent push to promote careers in technology and engineering drew the company to the state, and Bear said Little Rock is far enough from the Gulf that hurricanes won’t disrupt operations.

The center expects to open in June with 52 employees.

“Arkansas is quickly establishing itself as a hub for talented individuals,” Bear said.

Bear said the company hoped to find prospective employees who would be drawn to a sense of service in a nonprofit, and named engineering and other graduates from the University of Arkansas, Arkansas-Little Rock, Louisiana State University, the University of New Orleans and Texas A&M as targets.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at the ribbon-cutting that the center justifies his decision to back high-tech education. In previous years, aggressive school districts launched programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Arkansas legislators recently passed a law expanding computer classes in high schools — an effort mentioned in WIRED magazine.

“That is a high tribute to our state,” Hutchinson said.

The MISO center is 3 miles from the headquarters of the Southwest Power Pool, which manages the power grid through much of the Plains.

The two companies are renegotiating a joint operating agreement after SPP objected to MISO using, for free, one of its transmission lines to move power from its traditional territory north of far southeastern Missouri into the lower Mississippi River Valley.

Southwest Power Pool says MISO should pay to use the line, and has sent MISO bills. MISO has said the operating agreement allows either to use excess capacity on the other’s system for free.

Bear and SPP spokesman Tom Kluckner said Tuesday they expect the dispute to be resolved this summer.

 

BEFORE YOU GO…

… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About Megan Wright

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*