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New transmission lines for Gratiot wind farm now being built

The spot where trucks and materials are pulling in and out of Begole Road at M-46 is a staging area for the building of a new ITC transmission substation.

It will also include upgrades to its high voltage transmission lines.

ITC’s project was needed so it could “increase the line’s capacity to accommodate the full output of the wind farm,” according to an ITC statement.

The project began in Porter Township in Midland County in June, 2011 and that phase of the project was completed in October.

Work on this end of the project is expected to be finished at the end of this year.

The substation in Pine River Township has a name and it’s called Regal. It will eventually connect to a substation, called Summerton, in Mt. Pleasant, east of U.S. 127.

ITC spokesman Joe Kirik said it’s not likely that the line will connect directly to that substation.

“It will cut into the line,” he said, adding that it will be what is called a “double circuit.” It will be two lines on one set of steel poles.

The route for this new line has not yet been determined.

Once completed, it will transmit about 200 megawatts of energy from the wind farm, enough to power an estimated 54,000 homes, the statement said.

It will be at full capacity at that point.

Exelon Wind, another wind turbine company, is considering building another, smaller wind farm in either Gratiot or Ionia County yet this year. However, no more information is available on that proposed project. It’s also not known when an announcement will be made.

If Exelon should go ahead with plans to build in Gratiot, Kirik was asked if the new substation would be able to handle the additional load.

That proposed project “would not connect to any of these lines,” Kirik said. “That would be a separate project elsewhere. As part of our responsibilities as the grid owner, we facilitate grid access to all forms of generation.”

Greater Gratiot Development President Don Schurr said that if Exelon went ahead with the project in Gratiot, the substation impacted would be located in the southern part of Gratiot County.

“ITC has invested more than $1.5 billion in capital improvements since 2003 to our Michigan system, which includes more than 8,300 miles of high voltage electric lines and 256 transmission stations and substations throughout the Lower Peninsula,” the company statement said.