NOVI, Mich., June 15, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Four years, three months and two weeks to the day that ITC Holdings Corp. became a stand-alone electric transmission company, ITC CEO and President Joseph L. Welch has been honored as one of Ernst and Young's 2007 U.S. Entrepreneurs Of The Year®.
Welch was one of nine business principals in the Central Great Lakes region recognized by the auditing and professional services firm for exemplary leadership, vision, entrepreneurial achievement and social responsibility. He was honored in the real estate/construction/distribution category.
"Ernst & Young is honored to recognize extraordinary business leaders, such as Joe Welch, and the companies they have built," said Frank Maselli, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program director for the Central Great Lakes.
ITC is the largest independent electric transmission company and the eighth largest electric transmission company in the country based on transmission load served. ITC, through its subsidiaries ITCTransmission and Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC) owns, operates and maintains the high voltage electric transmission grid in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Over the past four years, ITCTransmission and METC have invested more than $580 million in capital and maintenance improvements to improve electric reliability, reduce congestion and lower the cost of energy being carried along ITC's 8,100 miles of high voltage transmission lines.
ITC is now actively expanding its independent transmission business model to other Midwest states. In January 2007, the company's subsidiary, ITC Midwest LLC, signed an agreement to acquire the transmission assets of Interstate Power and Light Company, an Alliant Energy Corporation subsidiary, in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. The transaction is valued at approximately $750 million. And on June 5, ITC Great Plains, another ITC subsidiary, received approval to operate in Kansas as a utility and move forward in its effort to construct, own, operate and maintain bulk electric transmission functions.
Welch has been at the helm of ITC since its inception. He successfully guided a pioneering staff of 38 employees through the rocky waters of building a company from the ground up and proudly presided over bell ringing ceremonies at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 23, 2005, after the company went public July 26, 2005.
"I am honored by this recognition, but I believe the success that ITC has achieved is much bigger than my personal efforts to lead it," said Welch. "The strength and success of ITC rests firmly upon the dedicated work and unwavering commitment of its employees and contract field crews. I consider myself fortunate to work with such an outstanding team of professionals and accept this award in their honor."
Welch has focused his company's attention on leveraging investments in the transmission grid in order to enhance system integrity and reliability and to reduce transmission constraints. By pursuing this strategy, the company is facilitating a reduction in the cost of delivered energy by providing consumers with access to the lowest cost power generation sources. ITC has been especially vigilant about ensuring that its transmission systems can support the addition of renewable energy into the market.
Welch began his energy career at Detroit Edison in 1971. He has extensive industry experience in electric transmission, distribution, rates, load research, marketing, pricing and regulatory affairs. In the time that he has headed up ITC's operations, the company has grown to more than 240 employees and is now building a new headquarters building in Novi, Michigan, that will accommodate 600. Not only has the company been widely recognized in the business community and utility industry for its unique business model, fast growth and transmission expertise, but it has continued to perform maintenance and operations tasks in the field with an unblemished safety record of one million man-hours without one lost time safety incident since beginning operations in 2003.
"ITC employees are focused on improving customers' lives by building and maintaining a stable, safe and modern transmission system," Welch said. "You can't underestimate the importance of this work. As communities continue to grow and demand more power, the current transmission grid will not be able to accommodate these demands.
"ITC employees are on the front lines of ensuring that communities don't go black because of grid failure and loss of power," Welch continued. "It's the kind of work that doesn't draw a lot of recognition -- until there is a problem and the lights go out. For my part, I couldn't be prouder of a team of people and more secure in the knowledge that ITC is building a better power future throughout the Midwest."
The Entrepreneur Of The Year® awards program was created and is produced by Ernst & Young LLP. As the first award of its kind, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic and growing businesses. The program, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006, honors entrepreneurs through regional, national and global award programs in over 125 cities and 40 countries.
As a Central Great Lakes award winner, Welch is now eligible for consideration for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007 national program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the overall national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award winner, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California on November 17, 2007. The national Entrepreneur Of The Year celebration is part of Ernst & Young's Strategic Growth Forum. The overall national Entrepreneur Of The Year award recipient is then considered for the world event held in Monte Carlo.
About ITC Holdings Corp.
ITC Holdings Corp. (NYSE: ITC) is in the business of electricity transmission infrastructure improvements as a means to improve electric reliability, reduce congestion and lower the overall cost of delivered energy. Through our operating subsidiaries, ITCTransmission and Michigan Electric Transmission Company ("METC"), we are the only publicly traded company engaged exclusively in the transmission of electricity in the United States. We are also the largest independent electric transmission company and the eighth largest electric transmission company in the country based on transmission load served. Our business strategy is to operate, maintain and invest in our transmission infrastructure in order to enhance system integrity and reliability and to reduce transmission constraints. By pursuing this strategy, we seek to reduce the overall cost of delivered energy for end-use consumers by providing them with access to electricity from the lowest cost electricity generation sources. ITCTransmission and METC operate contiguous, fully- regulated, high-voltage systems in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, an area with a population of approximately 9.8 million people, that transmit electricity to local electricity distribution facilities from generating stations throughout Michigan and surrounding areas. Subsidiary ITC Grid Development, LLC expects to focus on partnering with local entities and utilities in regions where significant transmission improvements are needed. The first region in which ITC Grid Development, LLC expects to focus its efforts is the Great Plains region, specifically in Kansas, through the formation of its subsidiary ITC Great Plains, LLC. For more information on ITC Holdings Corp., please visit http://www.itc-holdings.com. (itc-ITC)
SOURCE ITC Holdings Corp.
Investor/Analyst contact: Pat Wenzel, +1-248-374-7200, firstname.lastname@example.org, Media contact: Cheryl Eberwein, +1-248-767-1068, email@example.com
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