ITC Holdings Corp. (Novi, Michigan, U.S.) recently reaffirmed its alliance partnership with Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. (MEPPI; Warrendale, Pennsylvania, U.S.) that has been ongoing since 2004.
Through its subsidiaries ITC Transmission, Michigan Electric Transmission Co. LLC, and ITC Midwest LLC, ITC operates regulated high-voltage transmission systems in Michigan's Lower Peninsula and portions of Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri, serving a combined peak load in excess of 25,000 MW.
Several start-up business challenges for the ITC and the MEPPI alliance were significant and overcome in the past several years, including:
Federal mandates to be completely independent of previous owners assistance.
A lean operating philosophy.
Expectations of significant technology improvements, resulting in higher reliability.
Executing aggressive plans to replace aged transmission infrastructures.
Implementing an important business strategy, ITC selected MEPPI for the alliance partnership after determining its overall industry reputation for product quality and service. Agreed upon profit margins, transparent bookkeeping records and cost adjustments based on key indices were main aspects of the commercial contracts. Adopting standardized equipment simplified engineering design and operator training while reducing spare parts. Readily available field support through a single point of contact also has proven an effective combination for ITC's infrastructure replacement agenda. Innovative and extended-warranty arrangements were negotiated to further build upon the alliance partnership commitment.
Because one of the start-up business drivers was for a lean operating philosophy, very low-maintenance spring mechanisms that used stored mechanical energy were an obvious choice. ITC also strove to reduce SF6 gas emissions as another means to reduce maintenance costs and aid in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Earlier versions of gas breakers and other equipment using SF6 had a long history of leaking and refilling, which was problematic from both a waste and environmental perspective.
Thus far, an alliance partnership with MEPPI has alleviated these two prior concerns, while affording economies of scale with blanket ordering and guaranteed production slots in the MEPPI factory. These aspects have supported ITC's aggressive capital investments made in its transmission systems. MEPPI has supplied modern technology SF6 gas-puffer breakers to ITC in the voltage classes of 69 kV through 345 kV. To date, MEPPI has supplied approximately 359 breakers used for ITC air-insulated substation designs.