As continued technological innovations are introduced, energy infrastructure experts at Novi-based ITC Holdings Corp. today released a report on the need to upgrade the nation’s power grid, which is a network of high voltage towers and wires that feed power to communities across the country.
Designed decades ago without today’s developments in mind, modern electric infrastructure is needed to support industries ranging from medical imaging to national defense.
“We need updated and expanded energy infrastructure to support energy-intensive technologies, transport renewable energy from remote locations, and serve the related needs of customers,” says Jon Jipping, COO of ITC. “The quality of any state’s electric grid has a profound effect on its business climate, ability to attract new jobs, and support leading universities.”
For example, when the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Michigan State University in East Lansing $730 million for the new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) project, the university collaborated with ITC to support the growing energy-intensive research project by building a new transmission substation.
Scheduled for completion in 2022, the FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes to advance knowledge in nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions of nuclei, and applications of rare isotopes.
To support this and other needs, ITC has spent $6.5 billion since 2003 to build new transmission lines and substations or reconstruct old power infrastructure across its seven-state footprint. The resulting improvements in system reliability, interconnections of new energy sources, and access to competitive energy markets saved customers $1.4 billion from 2008-2014, according to an independent study. ITC believes more grid modernization is necessary across the country.
Additionally, Jipping says power transmission lines are necessary to carry wind and solar energy to remote parts of the country, and a modern energy grid will help balance these variable sources against constant energy sources like natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy to maintain reliable service to customers.
“Let’s change our mindset about how we plan the grid, and move forward with a greater sense of urgency,” adds Jipping. “Together with federal and state regulators, fellow utilities, and other industry stakeholders, we need to bring forth constructive ways to streamline grid planning and investment to ensure a resilient grid, facilitate economic development, and deliver value to customers.”