Construction begins on Thumb Loop project

International Transmission Company (ITC Transmission) broke ground for its 345-kV Thumb Loop project on April 2.

“We started drilling holes and pouring concrete foundations at the western end of the project just outside the Bauer substation site in western Tuscola County, working our way north and east toward the Rapson substation,” an ITC Transmission spokesperson told TransmissionHub April 5.

“Poles will start going up in a few weeks,” the spokesperson said, adding that most of the new poles will be steel monopoles.

The first phase of the double-circuit line will extend 62 miles from the community of Tuscola, Mich., about 18 miles east of Saginaw, Mich., to Huron County, Mich. The first phase has a planned in-service date of 2013. The remainder of the project is targeted for completion in 2015.

The entire project consists of about 140 miles of double-circuit 345-kV lines and four new substations. It will create approximately 50 positions during peak construction and require the support of ancillary businesses in the area.

According to ITC Transmission’s project website, the Thumb Loop project “will help increase transmission system reliability, reduce system congestion, provide more efficient transmission of energy and serve as a ‘backbone’ for future interconnection of new generation sources in the area, including wind.”

The Thumb Loop project, being built in the Thumb region’s wind energy resource zone, is “designed to meet the identified minimum and maximum wind energy potential of the Thumb region…and [will be] capable of supporting a maximum capacity of about 5,000 MW,” according to ITC’s project profile.

Several wind projects are already planned in the region. DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) plans three wind farms in the Thumb region totaling 110 MW. Other wind projects are under development in the region by companies including Consumers Energy, Exelon (NYSE:EXC), Geronimo Wind Energy, and NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), according to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

ITC Transmission is a wholly owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings (NYSE:ITC).

Consumers Energy is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE:CMS).