Letter from the President - Summer 2021

Tomorrow Starts Today - Ever-Changing Demands of the Power Grid

Simon 2021 headshotCan you feel the extraordinary rate of change taking place in the electric industry right now? Climate change. Renewable energy. The electrification of (just about) everything. These are today’s demands on the grid. We’ve seen unprecedented storms in Texas and Iowa. President Biden has set a target of a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and net zero by 2050. In MISO alone, there are more than 40 proposed solar projects, with wind projects coming in a close second. And, of course, the pace at which the country is moving to electrification is seen in the way of expanded broadband services, heating our homes and offices and the rapid rate at which electric vehicles (EVs) are coming to market. According to a joint study by EEI and the Institute for Electric Innovation, 18.7 million EVs are expected to be on the road in the United States by 2030.

I have been in this industry for 20 years, and the rate of change currently taking place is astonishing.  Yet, how do we plan for a future of constant changes in which nearly every part of our daily lives requires reliable electricity? We need a grid able to connect our country to renewable energy, improve reliability and resiliency and keep pace with the electric demands required.

Many studies, including those by Princeton University and the Brattle Group support a “transmission-first” approach to clean energy deployment, where transmission is built to facilitate renewable development in areas with abundant and cost-effective wind and solar resources. This approach can save electric customers money in the long run compared to the more incremental investment approach we use today.

Last month, ITC CEO Linda Apsey testified before the House Select Committee on the climate crisis to discuss one of the key steps we can take to help achieve the president’s emission reduction goals:  invest in our electricity transmission. Linda also was asked to be a panel member at this year’s Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Annual Convention. The theme of the convention was the road to net zero, where Linda used the analogy “transmission is to renewables as roads are to cars,” once again emphasizing the critical role transmission plays with transforming our generation fleet to cleaner and more sustainable generation sources. 

In Michigan, ITC has made significant investments in our transmission infrastructure to provide a safe, reliable and resilient grid designed to meet today’s needs, but there is much more work to be done. Given where our society is headed, and the long lead time needed for transmission planning and construction, we can’t afford not to make continued investments. The work must begin today to ensure we are ready for what tomorrow brings. We’re ready for the challenge!

Sincerely,

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

 

COMMUNITY COMMITMENT

Grand Rapids Mayor's Office Greening Initiative

summer gr tree image 2021In 2016, the Mayor’s Office, City Forestry Department and nonprofit Friends of Grand Rapids Parks launched the Mayor’s Greening Initiative. Each year since the launch, the Mayor's Greening Initiative has planted trees in an area of the city with low tree canopy cover. Typically, the event includes a street tree planting project with volunteers, tree giveaway for private properties and seedling giveaway for students. This year’s spring event employed social distancing guidelines to protect neighbors and volunteers. ITC is pleased to be a multi-year sponsor of this initiative by supporting the Friends of Grand Rapids Park. ITC support enabled Friends to add 101 trees to the city’s tree canopy in the Burton Heights neighborhood and Plaster Creek Park area. 



 

In the Environment

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ITC Named Tree Line USA by Arbor Day Foundation

The Arbor Day Foundation has named ITC Michigan and ITC Midwest a 2020 Tree Line USA® in honor of its commitment to proper tree pruning, planting and care in the provider’s service area. “Trees are a critical part of urban landscapes all across the United States,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “They provide important benefits to residents, including clean air, clean water and a tolerable climate. Service providers like ITC demonstrate that it’s possible for trees and utilities to co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.”

 

OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE

Aerial Patrols

ITC Michigan’s annual spring aerial patrol preventative maintenance operation took place from mid-May until mid-June. The helicopter patrols were conducted to provide an overall status of the overhead transmission system that is operated by ITC Michigan's operating entities, ITCTransmission and Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC (METC). The aerial inspections cover nearly all of the Lower Peninsula and are a North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC) requirement for ITC’s vegetation management program. The patrols also support proactive maintenance objectives and are in line with ITC’s model for operational excellence. They include inspections of steel towers, wood poles, conductors (wires), insulators and other equipment, plus routine checks for damaged or worn equipment or vegetation hazards.

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ITC Awarded Wildlife Habitat Council Training Project Award

In the course of its daily work, ITC integrates a sustainable approach to protecting the environment. In a recent demonstration of its environmental commitment, ITC earned the 2021 Wildlife Habitat Council Training Award for the Transmission Line Right-of-Way at Tomlinson Arboretum in Clinton Township, Michigan. The training award recognizes the highest scoring projects related to habitat or species support. The Tomlinson Arboretum project is an example of ITC’s support of native species identification, invasive species control and adaptive management within our power line right of way. Watch the video below to hear ITC Environmental Manager Mike McNulty and ITC Maintenance Permitting Specialist Gary Kirsh accept this award on behalf of the company.

 

PROJECT UPDATE

Connecting New Generation to Power the Region

PuttygutOverhead11-228c06165c424540ITCTransmission is building and modernizing the greater grid in Michigan to support reliability and the changing energy needs of businesses and consumers. The Blue Water Reinforcement Project is an example of ITC’s ongoing commitment to the operational efficiency and reliability of Michigan’s high-voltage transmission grid. When DTE’s Blue Water Energy Center comes online in 2022, it will run on natural gas and use combined-cycle technology that captures waste heat to produce additional electricity. The plant is projected to be 70 percent cleaner and 40 percent more efficient than the three coal-fired plants it will replace.

In Mid-May, ITC energized the new 345kV Puttygut Station in China Township, an important milestone for the Blue Water Reinforcement Project. The new substation is now providing backfeed power for the Blue Water Energy Center. 

Additionally in May, ITC completed the four-mile rebuild of the Hamlin-Spokane 120kV transmission line in Rochester Hills with higher-rated conductor (wires) to support greater capacity.

The final phase of the Blue Water Reinforcement Project is the construction of the new 345kV Crimson Station in Washington Township set to begin in Q3 2021, which will include new transmission line structures to connect existing lines to the new station. 

 
 
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Stover – Van Tyle 138kV Rebuild Complete 

ITC Holdings Corp., through its Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC (METC) subsidiary, has continued to upgrade electricity transmission infrastructure in Michigan with the completion of the Stover – Van Tyle 138kV transmission line rebuild in Northeast Michigan. Approximately 22 miles of existing structures were replaced with new monopoles designed for higher-rated conductor (wire). This reliability project is designed to improve the line ratings on the system and ensure the system will be able to handle the load demands in the region as we head into the summer season and beyond.  

 

 

Legislative Spotlight

Transmission Infrastructure Protection Act (TIPA) Update

The Transmission Infrastructure Planning Act (TIPA), or SB 103, was formally introduced in the Michigan Senate on February 3. Adopting a TIPA provision preserves Michigan’s right to decide who builds, owns and operates future high-voltage transmission projects. ITC supports TIPA legislation in Michigan to ensure utilities with a proven track record in the state are allowed to construct these systems. As Michigan transitions from its reliance on fossil fuels to renewable resources, SB 103 is critical to ensuring ITC, and the State of Michigan, are able to plan and develop a robust transmission system to support this transition. ITC will continue working with the Michigan Legislature on this key bill after the summer recess.

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Partners In Business - Save the Date

Mark your calendars for ITC’s annual Partners in Business Meeting which will be held in-person on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at The Henry Center in East Lansing, Michigan. Details will be coming your way this summer.
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