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ITC chief seeks rule change for 'Green Power Express'

Mar 13, 2009 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Dave DeWitte The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

ITC Holdings Corp. Chairman Joseph Welch asked for federal rule changes Thursday to make the company's proposal to build a major renewable energy transmission route more feasible.

ITC, based in Novi, Mich., owns Alliant Energy's former transmission system in Iowa. The company wants to build the "Green Power Express," a 3,000-mile system of extrahigh-voltage transmission lines to bring renewable energy from the Midwest to end users. A large portion of the transmission system would pass through Iowa.

In testimony before a U.S. Senate committee, Welch urged Congress to require mandatory industry participation in regional transmission planning authorities, and that the authorities pursue a new planning strategy that promotes electric grid interconnection across the country.

Welch also called for a greater federal role in determining the need for new transmission projects to support generation of renewable power.

States should continue to take the lead in determining where new transmission lines will be located within their borders, Welch said. He said the cost allocation system for transmission projects should be improved so the entire region that benefits from a project shares the costs.

Welch testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which began discussion on a draft bill that would address transmission facility siting, planning and cost allocation. He supported changes in the process proposed in the bill, which was released by committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

Welch cited a study prepared for ITC by the Brattle group that indicates Midwestgenerated renewable energy will be economically competitive with fossil fuel-generated electricity after 2020 after environmental regulations are passed to address climate change.

The study found that the existing scarcity of extra-highvoltage transmission lines in Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas will be a major impediment to the development of renewable energy resources.

-- Contact the writer: (319) 398-8317 or david.dewitte@gazcomm.com

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