Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ITC Great Plains Designated Partial Public Utility by Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ITC Great Plains Designated Partial Public Utility by Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Article excerpt

ITC Great Plains officials say they just want to invest in Oklahoma, and to help grow the burgeoning wind power industry. Asked what the company plans to do with its brand new, unprecedented designation as a partial public utility in Oklahoma, ITC spokespeople speak only of the good in store for the people of Oklahoma.

"This decision is good for Oklahoma," said Joe Welch, chairman, president and CEO of Michigan-based ITC Holdings Group, in a prepared statement the company released Thursday. "It gives us the certainty we need to invest millions of dollars in Oklahoma, and it also supports a growing vision in the state and across the region to build a modern, robust and integrated transmission grid to meet growing demand in the coming decades in Oklahoma and the entire country."

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission granted the company status as a partial utility last week. The order acknowledges that there has never been a partial utility in Oklahoma before, and that staff members and company executives will essentially have to make up the rules as they go along. Meanwhile, incumbent electricity utility OG&E and commission staff members are keeping a close eye on areas wherein OG&E officials have accused ITC officials of being less than transparent.

ITC builds transmission lines to carry electricity, but does not own any facilities for generating electricity. Traditionally, the electricity utility companies have been the only entities engaged in constructing transmission lines, as a means to distribute the electricity produced by that utility. However, incumbent electricity utilities across the nation, including OG&E, have noted the difficulty and expense of building transmission fast enough to meet demand, especially in rural areas where wind farms are being developed at a rapid pace.

The incumbent electricity utility had asked the commission to reject ITC's application. ITC presents a very different business model than the one people in the state are used to, she said, adding that ITC's motives and tactics may have been mischaracterized in some of the filings made at the commission. …

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