Michigan’s Thumb Loop Wind Energy Transmission Line is Complete

Thumb Loop Wind Energy Transmission Line
The 345kV double-circuit Thumb Loop system increases transmission system capacity and reliability, enables the delivery of lower cost generation and facilitates wholesale market competition.

ITCTransmission, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company, today announced its Thumb Loop high-voltage transmission project is complete with the energization of the third and final phase of the project. ITC invested an estimated $510 million to build the 345,000 volt (345 kV) line, which serves as the backbone of a system designed to meet the identified maximum wind energy potential of Michigan’s Thumb region. It also will contribute to regional system reliability and facilitate wholesale market competition.

“Conceiving and completing the Thumb Loop project demonstrates the value of forward-thinking, collaborative planning between the state and key stakeholders,” said Joseph L. Welch, chairman, president and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp. “It’s a prime example of the effectiveness of ITC’s planning process, which identified the transmission needed to facilitate Michigan’s renewable energy goals while also strengthening the regional transmission grid. This project brings an increase in transmission system capacity and reliability while providing more efficient transmission of renewable energy. It also created jobs and will have a meaningful near and long-term impact on the economy of the region and the entire state.”

Governor Rick Snyder cited the Thumb Loop’s benefits to the people of Michigan. “The Thumb Loop has been a good investment for Michigan. It has allowed us to expand our agricultural processing abilities and allowed us to add low-cost renewable energy to our grid and saved Michigan ratepayers real money. It is a good example of why we need to evaluate transmission in our overall planning to ensure an adaptable, affordable, reliable, and environmentally protective energy future.”

During the construction phase of the Thumb Loop, ITC estimates the project had a direct impact of $366 million to the Michigan economy, including employment of local contractors, vendors and suppliers. The Thumb-area economy benefited 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.

Studies by the Midcontinent ISO, the regional authority that oversees transmission for a 15-state area that includes Michigan, show that Multi-Value Projects such as the Thumb Loop are anticipated to produce benefits for customers in Michigan and the broader region of between two-and-a-half and four times the project cost.

Here is a video of the wind farms in the “thumb” of Michigan.  The State of Michigan is shaped like a mitten, hence the term “thumb” for this region.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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