NOVI — ITCTransmission, a subsidiary of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company, celebrated the start of construction of its 140-mile Thumb Loop high-voltage transmission line with an event aimed at recognizing the cooperative efforts of contractors, vendors, local officials and community leaders in Michigan’s Thumb area to advance the project.
ITC hosted the celebration outside its new Bauer substation at the western end of the 345,000-volt line in Tuscola County. Bauer is one of four new substations being built for the project.
Construction is just getting under way on the first transmission line segment, a 62-mile segment from Bauer to the new Rapson substation site in Huron County, east of Bad Axe. The Tuscola County section will cover approximately 25 miles.
“The Thumb Loop project is the largest single project we have ever undertaken and is critical to supporting transmission upgrades in this region of Michigan,” said Gregory Ioanidis, president of ITC Michigan. “Our Michigan-based contractor, M. J. Electric, is off to a great start with the project. We’re also enjoying excellent support from local vendors and suppliers who are providing support services and products. We appreciate the ongoing cooperation of local officials and community leaders. They’re all important to the success of the Thumb Loop project.”
ITC estimated that the current phase of Thumb Loop construction is providing more than 70 direct employment jobs, including contractors, vendors and suppliers, many of which are local. The area economy benefits from the demand for motel rooms, restaurants, concrete, hardware, fuel, gravel, and trucking services, among other needs.
Line construction on the Phase 1 segment will continue into 2013. Crews are drilling and pouring concrete pole foundations and installing steel monopole and lattice structures. Stringing of the conductors (wires) will begin later in the summer. ITC has worked with landowners along the route to negotiate easement agreements and establish access points for equipment and materials along the 200-foot-wide transmission corridor.
The Thumb Loop project consists of about 140 miles of double-circuit 345,000 volt (345 kV) transmission lines and four new substations. It will serve as the “backbone” of a system designed to meet the identified maximum wind energy potential of the Thumb region and will be capable of supporting a maximum capacity of about 5,000 MW.
As an important link in the high-voltage transmission system in Michigan and the region, it also will contribute to reducing congestion, improving system reliability and facilitating wholesale market competition.
Additional lines and facilities will be needed in the future as wind generators go into service and connect to the backbone system. The project will be constructed in stages. Construction on the first segment, the western side of the loop from Tuscola County to Huron County, began in the second quarter of 2012 and will finish in late 2013. The remainder is targeted for completion by 2015.
For more information about the Thumb Loop project, visit www.itctransco.com.