ITC Great Plains said Monday it will soon open an Oklahoma City office as the electrical transmission company continues its effort to build new power lines in the region.
“We're very excited about this expansion we're making,” ITC Great Plains President Kristine Schmidt said. “It's part of a broader strategy of expansion that has been underway for multiple years, which is growing the ITC business in the region.”
The Oklahoma City office will give the company a stronger presence near the state Capitol, Oklahoma Corporation Commission and utility companies Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., Western Farmers Electric Cooperative and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority.
ITC Great Plains is still negotiating terms of its planned lease in downtown Oklahoma City's City Center, Schmidt said. The office initially will house one permanent employee, but it also will provide space for Schmidt and other ITC employees who often travel among the company's other offices and will provide for future expansion.
“When we started looking at employing additional staff members as our business grew, we started looking at the skill sets and capabilities and recognized the Oklahoma area has a lot of the talent and capabilities we would need for expanding our operation,” Schmidt said. “As a result, we took a look at Oklahoma City and wanted to have folks here who can support the overall business, whether it's supporting some of our discussions with the Oklahoma stakeholders or if its in Topeka (Kan.) or Little Rock (Ark.). These positions in Oklahoma will support the broader region.”
Oklahoma Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez said ITC's expansion boosts the city's already-strong energy industry.
“We welcome the decision by ITC to invest in Oklahoma's growing energy economy by establishing a business development and operations office in our state,” Lopez said. “ITC's decision to create a presence in Oklahoma further validates the opportunities for energy companies to do business in Oklahoma and from Oklahoma.”
ITC about a year ago completed its 18-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line from Hugo to Valiant in southeastern Oklahoma.
The company late last year proposed a plan for five more high-voltage lines in the region, including two in Oklahoma.
One would start in western Oklahoma and travel across the northern section of the state to south-central Missouri. Another would start in west Texas, cross into southern Oklahoma and end in southwest Arkansas. Other lines would go from Kansas to Missouri; Kansas to Iowa; and Nebraska to Iowa.
The company submitted the proposal as part of Southwest Power Pool's 20-year plan to add more high-voltage transmission lines. The plan, called Integrated Transmission Planning Year 20 Assessment, is expected to be finalized this summer.
“This proposal offers an inter-regional planning perspective that is generation-neutral and works within the regional planning process to produce optimal grid performance,” Joseph L. Welch, ITC's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “These projects will draw upon ITC's track record as a best-in-class independent transmission developer and operator, as evidenced by the success of our existing projects and partnerships with local utilities in the Great Plains region.”
When we started looking at employing additional staff members as our business grew, we started looking at the skill sets and capabilities and recognized the Oklahoma area has a lot of the talent and capabilities we would need for expanding our operation.”
ITC Great Plains President