The NorthWestern partnership is one of several ITC anticipates signing in support of the 3,000 mile, 765 kilovolt (kV) electrical system – a system expected to facilitate the flow of up to 12,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy from the upper Midwest to load centres in central Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions of the country.

ITC said that the Green Power Express transmission network project will provide grid access for many of the wind farms in the upper Midwest and will traverse portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. It is currently estimated to cost about $10 to 12 billion.

NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving over 656,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Under the terms of the agreement, NorthWestern, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has expressed its interest in exploring opportunities in Green Power Express, LP, the entity that was formed by ITC to develop the Green Power Express project.

NorthWestern will collaborate with ITC on development efforts and in securing the approvals needed to move the project forward. Green Power Express, LP will operate as an independent transmission company, ITC said.

The Green Power Express project will also address the recognised need for additional transmission infrastructure and is part of ITC’s efforts to modernise the electricity grid.

Edward M. Rahill, president of grid development at ITC, said: “It is clear that this project is gathering steam and will play an important role in supporting the development of reliable renewable energy in the country. ITC looks forward to building a partnership with Northwestern, MDU and all utilities in the region to make the Green Power Express a reality.”