Letter from the President - Spring 2021

A Look at Import Capacity

A fundamental supply shift is underway in our industry, and nowhere is that more evident than right here in Michigan. The integrated resource planning process has yielded ambitious goals for our state:  Coal free by 2040. An 80% reduction in carbon emissions. Gigawatts of solar energy. No matter how you envision it, the future for our state includes cleaner, greener energy. 

More than 40 proposed solar projects dot the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) generator interconnection queue map, with wind projects coming in second place to solar. What impact do these intermittent resources have on the greater grid? How do we maintain secure, reliable energy delivery to withstand weather events and power modern society? When even a momentary outage can cost millions? The answer may lie, in part, across our state border.

The Statewide Energy Assessment conducted by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in 2019 found that an increase in import capability would improve the resilience of the electric system in Michigan and provide assurance that customers would be served as more extreme weather events, such as the winter storm that impacted Texas are experienced, as well as in the event of fuel shortages, or to fill in the gaps that may be left by intermittent resources.

ITC supports these efforts to evaluate the capacity import limit, and the related benefits. Additional import capacity could help us access diverse and economical sources of generation, support reliability and resiliency during emergency conditions, meet annual resource adequacy requirements as more extreme weather events are experienced, and address issues related to intermittent resources.

We believe that transmission offers a targeted, cost-effective solution to support both increased import capacity and renewable energy – but time is of the essence. We must plan and build the system now to meet our future energy needs and realize the vision that has been set before us.  

These are exciting times in our industry, and in our state!

Sincerely,

Simon Whitelocke

Simon Whitelocke
Vice President, ITC Holding Corp., and President, ITC Michigan

 

COMMUNITY COMMITMENT

As our state continues to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, ITC has committed funding to support relief efforts to address the tremendous humanitarian and economic needs. Read on to find out how our community commitment is making a difference in the Marshall and Monroe communities.  

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MAEDA/Choose Marshall Awards Small Business Grants with Support from ITC 

As Marshall area small businesses continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and state-mandated restrictions, the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance (MAEDA)/Choose Marshall continues to pursue funding to support the business community. Following a generous grant from ITC, Choose Marshall recently awarded grants to 10 eligible downtown businesses.  

“Choose Marshall has actively supported our small business community during this unprecedented time,” said James Durian, CEO, MAEDA/Choose Marshall. “Thanks to the quick action of the MAEDA Board of Directors in the early spring, we were able to support over 75 local businesses with MAEDA reserve funds. Since that time, we have been able to grant additional funds through community member donations and, most recently, with this generous grant from ITC Holdings. Support from corporate partners like ITC is invaluable to the economic health of our small business community and we sincerely thank them.” (Source: Choose Marshall)

ITC Partners with Community Foundation of Monroe County to Support Relief Efforts 

The Community Foundation of Monroe County has formed partnerships with six area businesses and organizations, including ITC, to collaborate on community-wide projects to assist with needs brought on by the pandemic. Relief efforts supported by the group include back-to-work sanitation kits for small businesses, providing face shields for healthcare providers, and supporting internet access and distance learning for area students, among other initiatives. (Source: Community Foundation of Monroe County) 

 

 

Customer Spotlight

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ITC Partners with Lowell Light and Power on Proactive Maintenance

Known as “The Showboat City,” Lowell, Mich., is situated where the Flat River meets the Grand River, east of Grand Rapids. Its residents and businesses are served by Lowell Light and Power, a municipal utility that has been around since 1896. While it may be more than 100 years old, Lowell Light and Power is forward thinking, planning for future customer needs and focusing on reliability.  
 
Lowell is home to a variety of industrial customers, including King Milling, Lighthouse Salad Dressing and Atwood Manufacturing. “These three-shift industrial customers heighten the need for around the clock reliability. It’s just as important at two in the morning as it is at two in the afternoon. Any outage can set them back,” says Charlie West, general manager for Lowell Light and Power. “Additionally, the need for reliability at the residential level has never been quite as apparent or necessary as it is now in this COVID environment as people are performing key functions of their life from home.”  

To ensure continued reliability for customers and plan for future needs, Lowell Light and Power turned to ITC with a unique request:  perform a proactive maintenance inspection of its five-and-a-half miles of 138,000 volt (138 kV) wood pole structures. “We started talking to ITC about the need to establish a firm, empirical condition of the line, and everyone agreed that the partnership with ITC to accomplish this just made sense,” says West.  

ITC strives to provide excellent customer service and out-of-the-box thinking to meet our customers’ needs. The ITC Stakeholder Relations team took Lowell’s request back to the company’s asset maintenance lead, who oversees the maintenance of 22,000 wood pole structures throughout ITC’s Michigan systems. As part of a unique maintenance agreement with Lowell Light and Power, ITC was able to develop a program to respond quickly to their request.  
 
ITC performed a visual inspection of the line, and utilized IML Resistograph technology, drones and infrared cameras to get a complete picture of the overall integrity of the 90 structures that comprise the line. Inspectors looked for evidence of chipped or flashed insulators, grounding issues, thermal anomalies and hardware issues, and ultimately found no significant issues with Lowell’s infrastructure. 
 
“The ITC team provided very detailed results from the inspection, and we now have a baseline to help us plan for the future,” says West. “ITC is a trusted partner, which gave us a high degree of confidence going into this project. The process was extremely smooth, and the data we received is and will continue to be extremely valuable.” 

ITC customers range from traditional utilities and independent power producers to industrial customers and energy providers looking to connect to the power grid.

 

Legislative Spotlight

ITC Supports Transmission Infrastructure Planning Act 

On February 3, SB 103, also known as the Transmission Infrastructure Planning Act (TIPA), was formally introduced in the Michigan Senate. ITC supports TIPA legislation in Michigan to ensure that utilities with a proven track record in the state are allowed to construct any future high-voltage transmission projects. Adopting a TIPA provision preserves Michigan’s right to decide who builds, owns and operates these systems and where they should be built. This provides benefits in terms of efficiency, planning, development, operation, and maintenance of the grid, while protecting landowner interests and meeting the needs of energy consumers. 

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Operational Excellence

Spring Into Safe Planting Practices 

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While April showers and May flowers may still be a few weeks away, gardeners, farmers and landscapers are no doubt getting ready for the spring planting season. If transmission lines and towers are nearby, safety should always be the first consideration when preparing to plant crops, trees, flowers and gardens. 
 
ITC works with communities and landowners to create awareness for the kinds of plants and shrubs that can be safely established near transmission lines, and the right places to plant trees.  Planting the right tree in the right place, away from power lines, can help conserve energy by providing wind protection, shade and cool air. This can add beauty, privacy and wildlife habitat to the landscape while also protecting the safety and reliability of the transmission system.  

It’s important to know how high a tree can grow when it reaches its full height. When it comes to planting near high-voltage transmission lines, ITC recommends:

·  Low-growing shrubs and grasses that will not go over 15 feet high in what we call the “wire zone” 
·  Smaller, decorative trees and shrubs in what we call the “border zone” 
·  And taller trees above 25 feet in the “far border zone” 

There are a lot of different factors that determine the width of these zones. We recommend that home and business owners explore our vegetation management page and contact ITC if they are planning to plant something near power lines and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or provide recommendations. 


 

PROJECT UPDATE

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METC: Bard Road – Warren Rebuild Project 

ITC, through its Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC (METC) subsidiary, is upgrading electricity transmission infrastructure in Gladwin and Midland Counties. METC will rebuild approximately 20 miles of its Bard Road – Warren 138,000 volt (138 kV) transmission line, replacing the existing structures with new, double-circuit monopoles designed for higher-rated conductor (wire). 
 
Pre-construction vegetation work is underway to ensure there is no hazardous vegetation that would interfere with the safe and reliable operation of the line. Line construction is expected to begin in Q4 2021 and be completed in Q2 2022. 

ITCT: Complex Control House Move at Waterman Substation 

Situated along the Detroit River adjacent to the historic Delray Power Plant, ITC’s Waterman Substation dates back to the early 1900s. As ITC continues to modernize aging transmission infrastructure across Michigan, its system planners determined that a newer, larger control house would be necessary to continue the safe and reliable operation of the station. A control house contains all of the electronic equipment that monitors the lines coming into the station, and provides visibility into the station for the operations control center team. 

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The existing equipment layout, as well as the control house’s final location inside Waterman Substation, made it challenging to bring in the new control house. ITC worked with rigging and transportation specialist Erickson’s to devise a unique solution to maneuver the tight constraints of the substation layout. Systems Control, which transported the control house from Iron Mountain (in the Upper Peninsula) to Detroit, transferred it to Erickson’s; then Erickson's brought it in on a Goldhofer for the last leg of the trip into the station. A Goldhofer is a modular, hydraulic platform trailer that is operated remotely by a controller. Within a few hours, the ITC and Erickson’s teams had positioned the new control house into the station. 

ITC is working on additional near-term upgrades to the station, including a comprehensive control relocation with upgraded relaying, breaker and switch installations, and replacement of a section of aging underground High-Pressure Gas Filled (HPGF) Pipe Type cable, including the installation of a new position and termination equipment. Additionally, in early December, ITC worked with Canada-based Hydro One to install optical ground wire (OPGW) on an international transmission line that extends across the Detroit River from Waterman to the Keith Transformer Station in Windsor, Ontario. OPGW helps protect equipment from lightning strikes and improves communication capabilities across the electricity system. Crews used a pulley system method to safely install the optical ground wire across the approximately half-mile span of the river.