Connecting what would become Michigan’s largest-ever wind farm became one the most complex and challenging interconnection projects in ITC’s history, requiring significant new facilities and upgrades.
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.
“This was a complex project over several years as the wind farm went online in two phases. ITC worked closely with us and Invenergy to finish each phase of the interconnection process on schedule so we could meet our commitments to our customers in a timely manner.”
– Richard F. VanderVeen, Founder, Gratiot County Wind Project
ITC executed this complex interconnection project on schedule and on budget, allowing the Gratiot County Wind Farm to gradually ramp up its production as planned to meet its obligations to its customers. Communities remained well informed and supported the project. And the Gratiot County area benefits from a more robust grid. The improved power quality and capacity that these transmission system upgrades have brought is also assisting efforts by Greater Gratiot Development, Inc. to attract new businesses such as large manufacturers and data centers that require large supplies of high quality power to operate reliability and efficiently.
“ITC’s grid upgrades are having positive effects beyond just connecting the wind farm. The increase in capacity, reliability and power quality has become a key element in our efforts to attract more new businesses to Gratiot County, particularly those that have very large or exacting power quality standards. ITC has been great to work with. They provided all the information we needed on the project well in advance. This provided an orderly flow of information to the public so that everyone was informed and comfortable with the plans.”
– Donald C. Schurr, President, Greater Gratiot Development, Inc.