By - Michael Drost

ITC completes Thumb Loop transmission project

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Energize Weekly, May 20, 2015

ITC Transmission says it has finished the final section of its $510 million “Thumb Loop” transmission line designed to improve wind farm access in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula region.

ITC announced that it completed the final 56-mile “Phase 3” section of the line last week. The company says the 140-mile 345 kilovolt (kV) line will be capable of supporting up to 5,000 megawatts and will allow wind energy in the peninsula’s Thumb area to connect to the larger electrical transmission grid.

“It’s a prime example of the effectiveness of ITC’s planning process, which identified the transmission needed to facilitate Michigan’s renewable energy goals while also strengthening the regional transmission grid,” said Joseph L. Welch, President and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp. “This project brings an increase in transmission system capacity and reliability while providing more efficient transmission of renewable energy.”

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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder praised the Thumb Loop project in a statement, citing its benefits in saving money for ratepayers as well as developing renewable energy in the state.

“The Thumb Loop has been a good investment for Michigan. It has allowed us to expand our agricultural processing abilities and allowed us to add low-cost renewable energy to our grid and saved Michigan ratepayers real money,” he said.

ITC began construction on the line in 2011, adding 62 miles of lines and two substations in Tuscola County in 2013. In 2014, ITC built 20 miles of lines in St. Clair and Sanilac counties along with a new substation in Wales Township, as well as upgraded its Greenwood substation in Grant Township. The final phase of the project, which ITC just completed, added 56 miles of lines as well as the Banner substation near Sandusky, in Sanilac County.

U.S. Representative Candice Miller (R-Michigan) said that the line puts the Thumb area in position to be a state leader in renewable energy.

“ITC’s $510 million investment in the Thumb Loop project, which it completed ahead of schedule, has transformed and expanded the antiquated and in some cases non-existent energy delivery capabilities across Michigan’s Thumb. I applaud ITC on this major accomplishment,” she said.

The project is part of a $4.5 billion effort by ITC to upgrade and expand its power transmission system in the U.S. Midwest.   ITC says that it plans to spend about $2.2 billion to fix and upgrade systems it acquired in Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Missouri between 2003 and 2007. It will also spend $1.2 billion on regional transmission lines like the Thumb Loop project, along with another $1.1 billion on greenfield development.

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