Electric grid company breaks ground in Little Rock

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm •  Published: March 14, 2014
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A company that manages part of the nation's electric grid marked the start of construction Friday on a regional center in Little Rock that will employ 50 people earning an average of $85,000 per year.

Midcontinent Independent System Operator CEO John R. Bear said the organization picked Little Rock for the $22 million center because of the supply of engineering talent and the focus by local colleges on what the industry needs.

"It was really quite an easy choice," Bear said.

Regional grid managers buy wholesale electricity for member utilities and are intended to secure the lowest prices available and sustain a reliable supply.

The company, known as MISO, is headquartered in Carmel, Ind., but needs a center in the South to accommodate its pickup of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. lines in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy signed with MISO after it dissolved its prior system agreement.

The building in west Little Rock is expected to be finished at the end of 2014, and employees are to move in during the spring of 2015.

MISO's regional hub will be near a similar operation. Southwest Power Pool opened a $62 million headquarters for its 500 employees in 2012 when it consolidated its offices that were spread across Little Rock. Both are nonprofit organizations that manage the flow of electricity among various utility companies.