Elements of the transmission grid in the Gratiot County area of mid-Michigan have been in place for many years and in some cases are at or near capacity. Connecting what would become Michigan’s largest-ever wind farm at 200 megawatts – enough to power 54,000 homes – quickly became one the most complex and challenging interconnection projects in ITC’s history.
ITC planning engineers closely studied the impact that such a large wind farm would have on the high-voltage grid in the Gratiot County area. It became apparent that injecting such a large amount of energy into the grid would require significant new facilities and upgrades. Multiple paths would be required to move the wind farm’s energy onto the grid efficiently. In addition, building new facilities and upgrading existing assets requires close communication and cooperation with local communities so they can be informed of the benefits of the project and become engaged in its successful completion.
ITC engineers developed a comprehensive, two-step plan that included two new substations, Regal in Gratiot County and Redstone in Midland County, along with other system upgrades as the wind farm gradually ramped up it production. These improvements included reconstruction of approximately 10.7 miles of the existing Tittabawassee-Begole 138,000-volt (138 kV) line between the Redstone and Regal substations to increase its capacity as well as construction of a new double-circuit, 138 kV line approximately 2.4 miles long connecting the Regal substation with ITC’s Alma-Summerton 138 kV line.
As the project unfolded, ITC worked closely with the wind farm developer and also with county and municipal officials beginning early in the process to keep them up to date on the planning, design and construction of the project. This helped ensure that communities were well informed and all requirements for permits were met.