ITC Holdings Cuts Its Emission of SF6 Greenhouse Gas

Apr 21, 2009

NOVI, Mich., April 21, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- In recognition of Earth Day, ITC Holdings Corp. (NYSE: ITC) today announced that a program initiated three years ago to reduce emissions from old transmission equipment has resulted in a significant drop in a potent greenhouse gas, Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6).

Between 2005 and 2008, ITCTransmission, a subsidiary of ITC Holdings, instituted an aggressive program of repairing or replacing leaking gas-filled electrical equipment that has resulted in a drop in its emissions from 13,275 pounds of SF6 to 1,836 pounds. SF6 is a non-toxic, non-flammable insulating gas commonly used in electric transmission equipment.

The marked decline in ITC's emissions is made more significant by the fact that the SF6 gas is considered one of the referenced "greenhouse gases" by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). SF6 emissions are 23,900 times more efficient in capturing infrared radiation than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

"We are pleased that our efforts to reduce SF6 emissions, through diligent transmission system maintenance and oversight, have produced these dramatic results," said Jon E. Jipping, executive vice president and chief operating officer, ITC. "This program falls in line with our commitment to environmental stewardship."

"On Earth Day, it's important to remember that each of us, individually, and collectively as corporations and communities, has a critical role to play in preserving and protecting the natural resources and environment of our planet. ITC is fully committed to its role in this important mission," Jipping added.

ITC voluntarily joined forces with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems in 2005. ITC joined the partnership to institute 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.

Since then, the company has invested in programs that specifically replace and maintain equipment to reduce SF6 emissions.

But ITC had been diligently tracking and replacing leaking equipment even before joining the EPA partnership. Since its inception in 2003, the company has embarked on two ambitious equipment replacement programs that target end of life circuit breakers and gas-insulated switchgear (GIS). The company also follows a robust preventative maintenance program to repair leaking equipment.

Over the past five years, ITC has implemented a program to track the frequency of maintenance of its gas circuit breakers to prioritize which should be replaced. The breakers, originally installed between 1964 and 1982, varied in size and handled the company's 120 and 345 kilovolts (kV) transmission lines. To date, no detectable SF6 leaks from the new equipment have occurred.

ITC's GIS replacement program has also yielded tangible results in greenhouse gas emissions and improved system reliability. ITC inherited four active GIS substations when it was established as an independent utility in 2003; company engineers determined they were all a significant source of leaking SF6 emissions into the atmosphere.

Leaks and intensive maintenance prompted the company to replace all of its aging GIS equipment, beginning with replacement of the equipment at the company's St. Antoine Station in Detroit. Equipment replacement at this station has eliminated the purchase of approximately 1,840 pounds of SF6 gas annually. Equipment repair and replacement at other substations, including Caniff, and Midtown, have resulted in the capture of a total 7,875 pounds of SF6.

ITC compliments its replacement programs with a robust maintenance program that includes equipment repairs to leaking seals, tube fittings and pothead flange valves that are not yet ready for replacement.

ITC subsidiaries Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC, (METC) and ITC Midwest LLC, have launched similar programs. METC, which has been tracking SF6 emissions since ITC took ownership in 2007, submitted its first report to the EPA in 2008; ITC Midwest intends to submit its first report in 2010.

ITC's efforts are in lockstep with the Obama Administration's pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the country 80 percent by 2050.

"ITC is to be commended for their early action on climate protection and their commitment to sharing information across the sector" said Sally Rand, EPA program manager for the SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems. "They have demonstrated that through partnerships and dedication to emissions reductions, the power transmission sector can reduce emissions of SF6 significantly."

In addition to its SF6 program, ITC is pursuing a number of green initiatives in its business operations. The new headquarters facility, opened in March 2008, was built up rather than out to protect the natural wetland habitat surrounding the building. Its design incorporates a variety of energy efficient materials and processes including energy-efficient lighting; occupancy sensors; floor to ceiling Low E-glass windows; a cooling system that uses outside cold air rather than a chiller; high-efficiency natural gas boilers; and an under-the-floor ventilation system that allows employees to adjust the temperature and air flow in their cubicles.

ITC is implementing employee-based green initiatives on the grounds of the facility and is working toward receiving Wildlife Habitat Council certification. A transmission corridor vegetation management demonstration project has been initiated and native plant and pollinator gardens are being planned.

The company is also pursuing The Green Power Express (GPE), a seven-state, 3,000-mile network of 765 kilovolts transmission lines capable of transporting 12,000 megawatts of renewable energy from the wind-rich upper Midwest to the major metropolitan areas where it is needed. The $10-12 billion project addresses the lack of transmission infrastructure needed to make wind power a reality in the nation.

About ITC Holdings Corp.

ITC Holdings Corp. (NYSE: ITC) invests in the electricity transmission grid to improve electric reliability, improve access to markets, and lower the overall cost of delivered energy. ITC is the largest independent electricity transmission company in the country. Through its subsidiaries, ITCTransmission, Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC) and ITC Midwest, ITC operates contiguous, regulated, high-voltage transmission systems in Michigan's Lower Peninsula and portions of Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri, serving a combined peak load in excess of 25,000 megawatts. ITC is also focused on new areas where significant transmission system improvements are needed through subsidiaries ITC Grid Development, ITC Great Plains and ITC Panhandle Transmission. For more information, please visit: (itc-ITC)

SOURCE ITC Holdings Corp.

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