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A Word with Transmission-Only Utility: ITC Holdings Corp

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 Forming a transmission-only business model has several advantages.  What are the benefits to becoming a transmission-only utility or transco? Will more utilities consider this business model as an opportunity to expand, upgrade and compete?  A transmission-only business model allows utilities to focus  their efforts into transporting power.  In line with rules established by FERC to bolster transmission investments, a transmission-only utility can promote reliability and lower costs while upgrading infrastructure and reducing transmission congestion.  Transmission investment continues to be driven by the need to upgrade aging infrastructure and to expand delivery of new sources of power to population centers. 

There are several transmission-only utilities in the United States, American Transmission Company (ATC), ITC Holdings Corp., Cross Texas Transmission, and Vermont Electric Power Company.  ITC and ATC took a moment to voice their viewpoints and share the secrets to their success with Energy Central.

A Word with Bob Doetsch, ITC Spokesperson for ITC Holdings Corp.

Mission:

ITC Holdings Corp. is the largest independent electricity transmission company in the U.S. – owner and operator of transmission systems expanding to eight states.  Unlike traditional utilities, ITC focuses only on transmission, has no geographic constraints, and is independent from market participants. ITC therefore views the needs of the electric grid and its customers from a unique, holistic perspective.

What has led to the growth and success of ITC Holdings Corp.?

“In our 15-year history as an independent transmission company, ITC has successfully acquired and integrated three transmission businesses in the Midwest, which now perform among the top 25% of utilities nationwide; pioneered a transmission-only utility from the ground-up in the Great Plains region; identified and facilitated critical regional transmission infrastructure; established a portfolio of actionable transmission development projects; and partnered with local utilities on transmission projects – all on the strength of our independent transmission model.”

Bob explained how ITC has become an industry leader and the benefits that are unique to their business model.

"As the largest independent electricity transmission company in the U.S. we deliver customer benefits that are unique to our business model, which include improving and maintaining system reliability; reducing system congestion; expanding access to competitive energy markets; facilitating interconnection of new generation; and lowering the overall cost of delivered energy by facilitating wholesale electricity markets.  FERC has recognized the value our unique business model provides to customers."

Bob shared more on the success of their business model. 

"ITC’s substantial investment in new infrastructure demonstrates the effectiveness of the independent transmission business model.  We have invested $8 billion in the transmission system since 2003 in a manner sought by FERC to most cost-effectively serve consumers.  The resulting improvements across ITC’s footprint in system reliability, interconnections of new energy sources and access to competitive energy markets saved customers $1.4 billion between 2008 and 2014, according to an independent study by ICF International."

On ITC’s specific achievements, Bob continued…

"On the strength of our business model ITC proposed and planned MISO’s first Multi-Value (MVP) project:  The Thumb Loop Project, a 140-mile, 345kV line tracing Michigan’s Thumb region, with four new substations. Completed in 2015, the Thumb Loop serves as the backbone of a system designed to meet the identified maximum wind energy potential of the Thumb region while being an important link in the high-voltage transmission system in Michigan and the region.  Our focus on transmission and independent business model has contributed to a steady pace of wind interconnections on our systems over the past 15 years.  ITC has connected 50 wind generator projects representing 5,657 MW of wind capacity on our systems in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Kansas."

ITC has invested $8 billion in 565 stations and substations, across 15,800 transmission circuit miles.  They own and operate transmission facilities in Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.  Forming a transmission-only utility may be the answer to concerns about the rapid speed of disruptive innovation, new technologies, modernization and the needed improvements to an aging infrastructure.  Should more utilities seize the opportunity to become a transmission-only utility?  ITC Holdings Corp. spokesperson Bob Doetsch made this convincing statement in conclusion, “As ITC has demonstrated, the independent transmission model is well positioned to meet the challenges of the emerging energy landscape, including a rapidly changing generation mix, increased electrification of society, and policy needs related to grid security, resilience and environmental sustainability.”

On behalf of Energy Central, I would like to thank Bob Doetsch at ITC utility for taking the time to share your insight and expertise with the community.

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Paul Dumais's picture
Paul Dumais on Mar 28, 2019

Thank you for this article and its insight on ITC and the Transco model.  

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