CHANGING ENERGY LANDSCAPE REQUIRES MODERNIZED POWER GRID
By Dusky Terry, President of ITC Midwest
There’s no doubt the utility industry is changing beneath our feet. From extreme weather events to the unprecedented transition to renewable energy generation, from the rapid adoption of electric vehicles to the increasing focus on energy system resilience, our industry is suddenly in the national spotlight. All of these forces reinforce the critical role of the transmission grid to support the changing landscape and ensure consumers have access to low-cost, clean and reliable electricity.
As an independent electric transmission provider, ITC Midwest is responding to these changes as we deliver electricity from the point of generation to distribution utilities that directly serve consumers. Despite the forces of change, our focus remains on providing reliable, cost-effective transmission service.
Over the past 13 years, ITC Midwest has invested nearly $4 billion to modernize and improve the electric grid in our region. These investments provide value in the form of enhanced reliability with system outages reduced by 63%, access to more renewable energy resources, and capacity for economic growth.
But the changes in the region’s energy landscape don’t allow the electric utility sector to rest on our past successes. Many of these changes require infrastructure investment to ensure grid stability. Consider a few of the trends contributing to the changing energy landscape:
More renewable generation sources –Consumer demand and declining costs are driving the move toward renewable energy resources. Governments, corporations, and other organizations pursuing sustainability goals are demanding clean energy. Traditional baseload generating plants are being retired at an unprecedented pace, as evidenced by this chart showing a significant shift in generating capacity connected to ITC Midwest’s transmission system just since 2007.
To meet that demand, utilities and renewable energy developers are adding wind and solar farms across the upper Midwest. MISO, the regional grid operator, reports more than 20 gigawatts of renewable energy are proposed in Iowa, Minnesota and western Wisconsin – enough to power 14 million homes. The development of robust transmission infrastructure must keep pace to connect these renewables to the power grid.
System storm resilience – When it comes to extreme weather, we’ve experienced firsthand the powerful effects of Mother Nature. The widespread power outages caused by last summer’s devastating derecho in Iowa and the recent extended sub-freezing temperatures across much of the U.S. demonstrate the importance of a resilient and reliable electric power grid.
Continued investments in transmission are essential to ensure older transmission lines are rebuilt to provide greater system resiliency and reliability during extreme weather events. At ITC Midwest, we are working to harden our energy delivery systems to provide greater redundancy to the entire grid and keep power flowing to consumers during storms. The unprecedented storms we experienced over the past year are now precedented, and we must prepare for the next time.
Electric Vehicles – Buzz around vehicle electrification is intensifying. Major automakers have announced phase-outs of gas-powered vehicles over the next 15 years. Many government entities and organizations have declared ambitious transportation electrification commitments – all with a focus on the decarbonization of transportation.
In the near future, fast vehicle charging stations will require large amounts of electricity from the transmission grid. Additional investments to the transmission system are needed to meet the power demand for vehicle electrification at the lowest cost.
Modernizing the power grid is key to harnessing the full potential of low-cost renewable energy sources, weathering more intense storms, and charging a growing fleet of electric vehicles. By investing in our transmission system, we are meeting consumer demands in a cost-effective manner.
As the energy landscape continues to rapidly evolve, we encourage everyone to stay informed and engaged in the discussion. Being informed means understanding your electric service as well as the costs and benefits associated with it.
Getting to the energy future consumers want requires proper planning and investment. The result will be a seamless continuation of the reliable, resilient and responsive electricity grid that is key to the region’s continued growth.
TRAER-DYSART PROJECT VIDEO
In September 2021, ITC Midwest completed the rebuild of a 161 kV transmission line extending from ITC substations northeast of Dysart to southwest of Traer. A segment the line is double-circuited with a 34.5 kV line that has now been rebuilt to allow for 69 kV operation. The Traer–Dysart 161 kV line was updated due to its age and ongoing operational issues that led to increased outages.
Among other design improvements, the new line was upgraded with tubular steel structures with conductor, insulators and hardware to better withstand extreme weather conditions. As a key route to move electricity in east-central Iowa, the new line will improve electric transmission reliability and increase system capacity to serve the growing needs of customers.
ABOUT ITC MIDWEST
ITC Midwest operates more than 6,600 circuit miles of transmission lines in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri. The company is headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and maintains operating locations in Dubuque, Iowa City and Perry, Iowa; and Albert Lea and Lakefield, Minnesota.
To date, ITC Midwest has completed 35 new generator interconnections, adding approximately 4,410 megawatts of new generating capacity to the grid – including approximately 3,700 megawatts of wind energy production capacity.
Over the past decade, ITC Midwest has completed more than 530 miles of 34.5 kV to 69kV line rebuilds. This is part of ITC Midwest’s continuing commitment to improve reliability of the electric transmission system and to serve the growing needs of customers in the region. These transmission line upgrades are enhancing grid efficiency, increasing the system’s capacity and reducing outages with the lines built to modern construction standards.
ITC Midwest is participating in four regional transmission solutions, or Multi-Value Projects (MVPs), as part of the 2011 MISO MVP portfolio designed to provide access to low-cost electricity generation, improve reliability and efficiency, and expand access to renewable energy resources throughout the Midwest.
Status of ITC segments:
– Cardinal-Hickory Creek project (MVP#5 connecting northeast Iowa to southwest Wisconsin) –
ITC is working with other utilities to advance the project. Projected completion 2023.
– MVP #4 (northern Iowa) – Completed third quarter 2019.
– MVP #7 (Connecting southeast Iowa and northeast Missouri) – Completed second quarter 2019.
– MVP #3 (Connecting southern Minnesota and northern Iowa) – Completed third quarter 2018.
Here’s what these MVP projects are adding to the ITC Midwest system:
– Approximately 300 miles of new 345 kV lines
– Four major new substations
– Three new interstate connections: Iowa to Minnesota, Iowa to Missouri, Iowa to Wisconsin
VIEW ALL ITC MIDWEST’S CAPITAL PROJECTS
ITC MIDWEST PARTNERS & RECOGNITIONS
ITC’s role as the owner and operator of the high-voltage transmission system in parts of Iowa and Minnesota requires ongoing communication with a variety of community stakeholders – from municipal leaders to residents – about the importance of investing in and securing the region’s transmission assets. Siting, construction and maintenance of transmission projects can impact communities and landowners; ITC works one-on-one with local communities, assessing the nature of the issues that must be addressed to achieve successful proposals and win-win solutions.
Across the ITC Midwest service area, ITC also supports local communities with charitable donations and recreational access to its transmission corridors. Our commitment to the communities we serve is the cornerstone of our business and our mission to be a best-in-class transmission provider.
VIEW THE FULL LIST OF ITC MIDWEST PARTNERS & RECOGNITIONS
PROJECTS AND INITIATIVES
According to a national benchmark survey, ITC Midwest system outages have decreased by 49 percent since 2008 when ITC assumed ownership of the system.
ITC works one-on-one with local communities, landowners and stakeholders to assess the nature of the issues that must be addressed to appropriately plan, site, construct and then maintain a highly efficient transmission grid.
The ITC Stakeholder Relations team provides solutions related to electric reliability, power quality improvement, system capacity and transmission infrastructure improvements.
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THE TRANSMISSION LINE
The Transmission Line newsletter showcases the most recent news from ITC Midwest, featuring project updates, community engagement and support initiatives, safety messages and more.
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