Our Commitment to the Environment
Even though we don’t generate electricity or sell it directly to customers, we know ITC has a role to play in creating a greener energy future.
That’s why we integrate sustainability into everything we do as a company, whether that’s enabling the transmission of new sources of renewable energy or actively reducing our own carbon footprint.
ITC’s environmental stewardship is driven by an ISO-14,001-based environmental management system, and focuses on three main areas:
- Workplace Stewardship
- Operations and Maintenance
- Planning and Construction
Our Stewardship in Action
Learn about ITC’s work installing more than 1,000 yellow-coiled bird diverters along transmission lines in Michigan’s Crow Island State Game Area, and how it will protect wildlife.
True environmental stewardship begins at home. Our commitment to the environment starts with our hundreds of employees, who have embraced waste reduction, conservation, and habitat projects across ITC and its regional operating companies.
Following a waste audit conducted in our facilities, ITC identified items suitable for recycling or reuse. Led by our warehouse and facility managers, ITC’s Green Teams instituted recycling programs across the company’s headquarters, regional offices and warehouses. Our teams have reduced the waste generated at our warehouse facilities by 50%, and ITC now recycles roughly half of the waste generated at our headquarters in Novi, Michigan. We have also achieved our zero landfill goal for all waste at our warehouse in Wayland, Michigan.
We continue to pursue energy-efficient improvements at our facilities that demonstrate the increasing integration of renewables and technology, including a battery storage facility and solar arrays at ITC’s Novi, Michigan headquarters. We are also evaluating other sustainable practices and technologies in ITC facilities and operations, such as improvements to heating, cooling, lighting and storm water management at our facilities, pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification at the Novi HQ, purchase of renewable energy sources at our facilities and reducing losses on our transmission systems.
ITC regularly conducts habitat projects designed to support wildlife in our service territories and at our 92-acre headquarters campus in Novi, Michigan. We won the 2015 Pollinator Advocate Award from the Wildlife Habitat Council for our land management practices and work to support birds, bees, butterflies, moths, and bats around our headquarters and through community partnerships.
In 2022, we enrolled 98,000 acres across six states in a federal program to protect and grow habitat for the threatened monarch butterfly. This voluntary program establishes consistent conservation measures and provides regulatory certainty for participating landowners while also supporting this crucial pollinator.
As part of ITC’s Clean Energy Plan, we are working to reduce emissions from our fleet of approximately 800 light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. As part of that effort, we have installed battery-operated Jobsite Energy Management System (JEMS) units on trucks used on jobsites, which eliminate the need to idle. We are also replacing light-duty vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs) when possible and installing a fleet telematics system that can identify efficient driving routes and eliminate idle time. These changes save ITC an estimated 22,000 gallons of fuel and reduce air pollutants by 12.5 tons each year.
Recognizing that stormwater runoff from urban rooftops, driveways, and streets can carry pollutants directly to rivers and streams without any treatment, ITC has installed rain gardens at two warehouses in Iowa and Michigan. The gardens are designed with plants and loose fill and are capable of absorbing roughly 4,000 gallons of rain runoff. Our employees participate in monitoring and maintaining the gardens.
Working for Sustainability
Building the power grid of the future requires going beyond the status quo, and ITC believes the same about sustainability.
We’re continually training with internal and external experts to incorporate the latest in green facilities, energy efficiency, and environmental conservation. ITC teams hold 14 Conservation Certifications from the Wildlife Habitat Council, a national nonprofit supporting corporate conservation programs. In 2022, ITC received the Gold Tier Program Award recognizing efforts at our Novi headquarters campus.
Our Stewardship in Action
ITC won the 2021 Wildlife Habitat Council Training Award for our Transmission Line Right-of-Way at Tomlinson Arboretum in Clinton Township, Michigan. Hear from ITC Environmental Manager Mike McNulty and ITC Maintenance Permitting Specialist Gary Kirsh about the project and award.
Planning and Constructing Transmission
Building the power grid of the future requires creative, innovative transmission solutions. ITC is working every day to connect new forms of renewable energy to the grid in more sustainable ways.
Reducing Our Environmental Impact
When planning transmission projects, we work with state and federal agencies to conduct environmental assessments and apply best practices for wetlands, threatened and endangered species, and other sensitive habitats. By including these factors at the front end in a transmission line route analysis, we can adjust the placement or timing of construction to avoid or limit the environmental impact. We also implement sustainable construction and recycling practices to lower our carbon footprint.
Our efforts to protect and restore natural habitats include repurposing old wooden transmission structures to support threatened species in the Midwest.
- Michigan: ITC is working with the Huron River Watershed Council, Osprey Watch, the Audubon Society, and the City of Ann Arbor in the effort to increase the number of osprey in southeast Michigan. Two 16-feet-high osprey nesting platforms made from recycled ITC power structures were placed in the Ann Arbor parks system in 2015.
- Iowa: ITC donated 10 cedar poles from decommissioned power structures to the Iowa Department of Transportation in 2015 for appropriation as bat poles serving the habitat of the northern long-eared bat, a federally endangered species.
We recycle as many components of our decommissioned electrical equipment as possible, diverting thousands of tons of material from landfills each year.
In addition to building new transmission lines where power flow is needed today, we are rebuilding hundreds of miles of aging transmission infrastructure, which includes power lines and electrical substations. Replacing old equipment poses the challenge of how to responsibly handle the retired components, which include conductor (wires), oil-insulated transformers, circuit breakers, underground cable, structural metals, wood poles, batteries, and concrete. Fortunately, most components of decommissioned electrical equipment can be recycled:
- Station back-up power batteries are sent to a battery recycling facility, where the lead and acid are separated.
- PCB-contaminated oil and metal is sent to a federally licensed treatment facility for de-chlorination and recycling.
- Concrete pads from construction projects are sent to recyclers, where they are crushed and used as aggregate in new concrete production.
- Utility poles are often donated to the landowner.
- Untreated wood is sent to a recycling facility for reuse as landscaping mulch.
Native prairie ecosystems found across the Midwest are vast stretches of flat, fertile grassland, known for their moderate temperatures and rainfall—and for being home to many species of wildflowers and wildlife. Unfortunately, farming and development have virtually eliminated native prairies, putting plants and animals at risk.
In partnership with local communities, state and national agencies, and conservation groups, ITC is working to protect and restore these endangered ecosystems. ITC has helped improve the health of the Lakeplain Oak Openings region in Michigan and Ohio and initiated three transmission line corridor prairie restoration projects in Iowa, covering approximately 42 acres.
Building More Sustainable Connections
Learn how ITC recycled 11,000 pounds of copper used in overhead line conductors as a donation to Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, and how it will benefit people and the environment.
Sustainable Transmission Success Stories
ITC crews are proving that we can build a more reliable grid capable of handling new forms of electric power while also protecting sensitive wildlife habitats. Here are a few of our biggest achievements in recent years.
Rebuilding old power lines in rural wetlands can pose particular environmental challenges for utilities. In western Michigan, we needed to replace five transmission lines running through several miles of wetlands on deteriorated wooden H-frame poles. Before line work could begin, crews had to reconstruct an old access road and install three temporary bridges over waterways. Crews also sunk caissons for the towers directly into the ground using a hydraulic vibration process in compliance with wetland regulations, reducing or eliminating the need for digging foundations. As an environmental bonus, the five old lines were consolidated onto three new sets of steel monopoles—reducing the system’s footprint. The rebuilt lines returned to service in 2011.
ITC collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in planning a 21-mile rebuild of a deteriorating transmission line crossing the Manistee National Forest in Michigan. A unique aspect of the project corridor is that it serves as habitat for the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. With support from our state government partners, we applied for a Certificate of Inclusion in the Statewide Habitat Conservation Plan – a 20-year permit that would allow ITC to perform work in this type of environment using state-recommended mitigation and monitoring procedures. ITC also contributed to a Wildlife Habitat Conservation Plan to restore native prairie in a 39-acre area adjacent to the project corridor. Completed in late 2014, this cooperative project ensures that reliable power flows to west Michigan communities in harmony with the Karner blue butterfly population.
Operating and Maintaining Transmission
Responsible management of the natural space under and around transmission corridors accomplishes more than the main objective of maintaining safe and reliable electric service: This work results in diverse, stable greenways where grasses, wildflowers and low-growing shrubs thrive, and with less environmental disturbance. Some of the ways we accomplish this include:
ITC’s environmental team coordinates with partner organizations to maintain databases of rare plant and animal species, and determine when specialized vegetation management techniques are needed to protect rare species and habitats in the course of our operations and maintenance activities. Those techniques can include limiting equipment access to times when animals are hibernating or plants are dormant, and using special equipment to limit impacts in wetlands or other sensitive habitats. In an effort to protect large birds such as eagles, hawks and blue heron that frequent certain transmission corridors, ITC installs bird diverter technology on these lines—coiled objects designed to help make the lines more visible to birds to discourage contact with the lines.
ITC’s environmental team has developed protocols for reducing the potential spread of invasive species and for managing invasives should they become established in our transmission corridors. Foresters and other trained field staff inspect our corridors to identify both appropriate and incompatible species on a site-by-site basis and recommend suitable management methods in the greenways.
ITC works with residents to help them understand what kinds of plants and shrubs can be safely established near transmission lines—and the right places for trees. Under our Right Tree, Right Place program, ITC holds site-selective education events in communities to complement property-owner landscape management and help prevent tree interference with transmission lines.
ITC is a perennial awardee of the Tree Line USA certification in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of our tree-care education programs and sponsorship of tree-planting events.
Find more information on compatible plantings near transmission lines here:
ITC voluntarily joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride) Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems in 2005. SF6 is an insulating gas used in high-voltage substation equipment and is a potent greenhouse gas. Through the partnership, ITC instituted an industry standard for reporting its emissions, to establish inventory tracking of its SF6 use, and to work in collaboration with other industry partners and the EPA to develop and improve gas handling and maintenance programs. In recognition of these efforts, the EPA presented ITC with its SF6 Team Leadership Award in 2012.
ITC’s Environmental Philosophy
ITC strives to minimize the environmental, health, and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities, and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies. We will safely, effectively, and responsibly manage properties, materials, emissions, and wastes in ways that are both responsible and environmentally sound through appropriate due diligence.
When feasible we will:
- Purchase and use environmentally preferable materials, products, and services
- Eliminate or reduce emissions and wastes at the source of generation
- Properly store, handle and dispose of all wastes
- Pursue opportunities to recycle and reuse waste materials
- Communicate ITC’s environmental protection measures and pollution prevention technology, knowledge and methods
- Encourage responsible use of energy
Our Recognitions & Awards
ITC’s sustainability and conservation work has been recognized by a variety of local, state and national groups, and we’re proud to serve as a role model and thought leader for others in our field. Some of our most notable awards include:
- 2022 WHC Gold Tier Program Award, Wildlife Habitat Council
- 2020 Tree Line USA Certification, Arbor Day Foundation
- 2015 Pollinator and Habitat of the Year Awards, Wildlife Habitat Council
- 2015 Michigan Environmental Leaders Award, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
- 2013 & 2016 Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award, State of Iowa
- 2012 SF6 Emission Reduction Team Leadership Award, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Everything we accomplish at ITC is done in collaboration with our partners across the country. Here are some of our top partners in the environmental space.
Arbor Day Foundation
The largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners.
Edison Electric Institute
The association represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. Members provide electricity for 220 million Americans throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Electric Highway Coalition
A partnership among 14 U.S. utilities to create a seamless network of rapid electric vehicle charging stations connecting major highway systems, stretching from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest, South, and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions.
Keystone Energy Board
For more than 20 years, The Keystone Energy Board has provided a one-of-a-kind forum for energy leaders to discuss and debate timely energy and environmental issues; explore opportunities for improved policy-making in the public and private sectors; and share perspectives with other senior energy leaders working in critical areas.