DOE issues Presidential Permit for Lake Erie Connector project

ITC Lake Erie Connector LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings, on Jan. 13 said that it has received approval of a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the 1,000-MW, bi-directional, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) underwater ITC Lake Erie Connector transmission line.

The approximately 73-mile, +/- 320-kV line that would interconnect with converter stations located in Erie, Pa., and Nanticoke, Ontario, aims to provide the first direct link between the markets of the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and PJM Interconnection, ITC said.

A 345-kV alternating current (AC) underground transmission line would connect the Erie converter station to Penelec’s existing Erie West substation, while a 500-kV AC line would tie the Nanticoke converter station to Hydro One’s Nanticoke substation, ITC said, adding that most of the line would be buried beneath Lake Erie or underground using existing roadway rights of way (ROWs).

As noted in the Jan. 12 Presidential Permit, the U.S. portion of the proposed project would cross the U.S.-Canada border in Lake Erie as a submerged line, buried in the lake bed, and would run about 35.4 miles before reaching the shore on private property, west of Erie Bluffs Park.

From the shore, the permit added, the line would be buried underground for about seven miles, along mostly roadway ROWs and terminate at the proposed Erie converter station. From that station, a 345-kV AC transmission line would run about 0.6 miles underground and connect into the U.S. grid at the existing Erie West substation owned by Penelec.

The U.S. portion of the project would total about 42.8 miles, the permit added.

According to the permit, DOE staff concur with PJM’s conclusions and determine that the 1,042-MW withdrawal from the IESO system over the Lake Erie Connector with a 1,000-MW injection into the PJM system will not have a negative impact on the reliability of the U.S. electric grid if operated consistent with PJM and NERC policies and standards, terms and conditions of the Presidential Permit, and other regulatory and statutory requirements.

In addition to DOE’s reliability determination, based upon the results of the environmental analysis, concurrences of the Departments of State and Defense, and public comment process, DOE determines that the issuance of a Presidential Permit to ITC Lake Erie is consistent with the public interest, the permit said.

Calling DOE’s approval “a significant step” in the project’s development, ITC Grid Development President Terry Harvill said in the statement: “This project would provide a direct, efficient and controllable path for energy and capacity to flow between the PJM and IESO systems. By facilitating the import and export of energy between the U.S. and Ontario, the line can help optimize renewable resources and satisfy renewable energy requirements in the U.S. In addition, the Lake Erie Connector would help improve the security, reliability and capacity of these energy grids.”

ITC said that remaining milestones in the project this year include receiving additional major permits from Canada’s National Energy Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in a joint application; completing project cost refinements; and securing favorable transmission service agreements with prospective counterparties, after which ITC would proceed with construction with the goal to place the project in service in late 2020.

Among other things, ITC said that it has completed the necessary system impact studies in IESO and PJM; signed service agreements with the manufacturers of the converter stations and the submarine cable; and secured nearly all land necessary for the terrestrial cable route, converter stations and construction laydown areas.

ITC is a Fortis (NYSE:FTS) company.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.