The first phase of Michigan’s Thumb Loop 345-kV transmission project was energized and placed in service Sept. 27 by developer ITC Transmission, a wholly owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings (NYSE:ITC), on time and on budget.
“This project will strengthen the transmission grid in the Thumb area of Michigan and also will serve as a backbone for the interconnection of new generation sources in the area,” Gregory Ioanidis, president of ITC Michigan, said in a statement announcing the energization. “It will increase transmission system capacity and reliability, enable the delivery of lower cost generation and provide more efficient transmission of energy.”
Following project approval from the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) in August 2010, ITC Michigan filed its application with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), along with a request for expedited consideration. The MPSC issued a siting certificate in February 2011, and construction began on Phase 1 in 2Q12 (Docket U-16200).
Phase 1 of the 140-mile project consists of 62 miles of double-circuit, 345-kV lines from the new Bauer substation in Tuscola County to the new Rapson substation in Huron County. The Thumb Loop project is entirely within the state of Michigan,
Construction continues on schedule for the two phases of the project that have yet to be completed, the company said.
All the support structures have been erected and conductors are being installed along the 20-mile Phase 2 section in St. Clair County, Mich. Construction of Phase 3, which will run approximately 58 miles from the Rapson substation through Sanilac County to the Greenwood substation in St. Clair County, will commence in 1Q14, the company said. The entire project is expected to be completed and in service in 2015.
During the construction phase, ITC estimates that the entire Thumb Loop project will have a direct impact of $366m to the Michigan economy, including jobs with local contractors, vendors and suppliers. The area economy benefits from the demand for supplies and services such as concrete, hardware, fuel, gravel and trucking, as well as food, lodging and other personal needs for construction crews.
The Thumb Loop project will serve the area of the state designated as Region 4 by the Michigan Wind Energy Resource Zone Board and will be the backbone of a system designed to meet the identified maximum wind energy potential of the Thumb region. When completed, it will be capable of supporting a maximum capacity of about 5,000 MW. The project will also contribute to reducing congestion, improving system reliability and facilitating wholesale market competition, according to the company.
Additional lines and facilities that will be needed in the future as wind generators go into service will connect to the backbone system, the company said.