LAKE ERIE CONNECTOR PROJECT

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WHO IS BEHIND THE PROJECT?

The Lake Erie Connector project is being developed by ITC Investment Holdings Inc., the parent company of ITC Holdings Corp., the largest independent electricity transmission company in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Canada-based Fortis Inc.

WHY IS THIS TRANSMISSION LINE NEEDED?

The Lake Erie Connector is needed to create a direct energy transmission corridor between the Ontario IESO and U.S. PJM energy markets, helping improve the security and reliability of both regional systems. It also is expected to help increase market efficiencies and benefit the economies of both regions. The project has the potential to strengthen the regional grid by playing a role in emergency grid restoration.

HOW DOES POWER CURRENTLY FLOW BETWEEN THE ONTARIO IESO AND PJM ENERGY MARKETS?

The energy currently must flow across limited existing interties and through other markets such as Michigan or New York to travel around Lake Erie. Some entities do schedule power in this way, but it is inefficient and costly. The Lake Erie Connector will provide a new, direct, and efficient trading route between the two markets and will benefit both regions.

WHAT IS THE ROUTE OF THIS ENERGY TRANSMISSION LINE?

The proposed route of the Lake Erie Connector is between Nanticoke, Ontario and Erie County, Pennsylvania and beneath Lake Erie.

HOW WAS THE ROUTE CHOSEN?

The two points of interconnection in Ontario and Pennsylvania were chosen because they provide excellent access to the existing transmission systems. The cable route has been optimized to connect these two points while minimizing environmental impacts, avoiding areas of historical and archeological interest (such as shipwrecks), and utilizing low-impact shoreline crossings.

WHERE WILL THE ENERGY COME FROM?

There are a variety of generation sources in the markets of the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and PJM Interconnection, and neighboring regions. The shippers who purchase capacity on the Lake Erie Connector will determine the source of the energy they transfer.

HOW LARGE ARE THESE ENERGY MARKETS?

Ontario is Canada’s second largest province, covering more than one million square kilometers (415,000 square miles) with a population of 13.5 million. PJM comprises all or part of 13 U.S. states, with a population exceeding 60 million – the largest energy market in the world.

HAVE YOU ENGAGED PUBLIC INPUT ON THIS PROJECT?

Yes, numerous public consultations in Ontario and Pennsylvania were held – the respective connecting points of the line – to discuss the project and gather community input.

HOW COULD THIS PROJECT IMPACT HOMES AND BUSINESSES?

Our project development team has worked closely with local and regional planners and with local residents and other stakeholders in the U.S. and Canada to minimize impacts to local residents.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR MILESTONES IN THIS PROJECT?

Remaining milestones in the project include completing project cost refinements and securing favorable transmission service agreements with prospective counter parties, after which ITC Investment Holdings, Inc. could proceed with construction, as soon as 2022.

HOW DO YOU INSTALL THE CABLES UNDERWATER?

The Lake Erie Connector will use two cables that are each approximately six inches in diameter. A specialized ship will lay the HVDC cable along the bottom or Lake Erie utilizing low-impact water jet technology to create a temporary trench that is only slightly wider than the cable itself, and which will be filled by natural forces.

IS THIS TRANSMISSION PROJECT SAFE?

Placing transmission cables beneath waterways is an established and safe way to move power. These cables will be well insulated, do not contain liquids or gels, and are made from non-flammable materials.

CAN THE CABLE BE DAMAGED ONCE IT IS PLACED UNDER LAKE ERIE?

This is highly unlikely. The cables will be placed safely and securely beneath the lakebed. In the unlikely event that the cable is damaged, the system can identify the location and shut down within fractions of a second. Protocols are in place at both converter stations to ensure safety.

WHAT IS HVDC TRANSMISSION?

High-voltage direct current (HVDC) uses direct current to transmit electricity, in contrast with the more common alternating current (AC) systems. HVDC systems are often built as an overlay to a robust AC system or for unique circumstances. HVDC transmission lines are especially appropriate for underwater applications. HVDC systems have a long record of reliable performance around the world. As an analogy, an AC line is like a highway, with multiple interconnections to the regional grid that act as on- and off-ramps. A DC line is more like a tunnel, with an entrance and an exit but no interconnections along the line.

ARE THERE OTHER TRANSMISSION LINES SIMILAR TO THIS ONE?

Yes, transmission lines similar to the Lake Erie Connector have been in use all over the world for many years.

WHAT IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THIS NEW TRANSMISSION LINE?

The technology involved and the line route for the Lake Erie Connector were chosen to minimize environmental impact. The line will be buried under the lake bed and at the landing points. The safe and reliable HVDC technology ensures that this energy transmission line has no adverse impact to the environment. From planning our projects within the best interest of the environment to recycling at our facilities, we focus on sustainability efforts that set a positive example for the other businesses and the communities we serve. These efforts have been recognized at the local, state and federal level.

WILL OVERHEAD TRANSMISSION LINES BE USED?

No. The current project plan envisions all of the cable being installed underwater or underground.

WILL THE COSTS OF THIS TRANSMISSION PROJECT CHANGE MY UTILITY BILL?

The costs for this line will be borne by the parties that purchase capacity on the line.

HOW LONG WILL THIS TRANSMISSION CABLE BE IN SERVICE?

There are numerous examples of similar types of projects that have been in operation for decades.