Upcoming power plant retirements in the Kanawha and Ohio valleys as early as 2015 will change the way electric power flows on the electric transmission grid. To accommodate those changes and address additional issues identified by an independent regional transmission operator, an Appalachian Power affiliate will file requests this year with regulators to make more than $337 million in upgrades in West Virginia, with most of the work slated for the Kanawha Valley.
“The power grid is dynamic and it will be affected by retirement of existing power plants,” said Charles Patton, Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer. “These upgrades not only meet the immediate need to strengthen the grid, but position the region well for growth in the future.”
The upgrades include rebuilding approximately 52 miles of existing transmission lines and making upgrades to substations. The bulk of the Kanawha Valley work will take place between the company’s John Amos Plant and its Turner and Cabin Creek substations, with a key loop in the Cross Lanes area and another in the Kanawha City area. Additional work will be done to facilities that feed off the backbone transmission line that runs from Poca to Cabin Creek. The last major reinforcement to this backbone was nearly 40 years ago.
The rebuild will involve removing current transmission facilities and replacing them with similar but sturdier facilities of the same voltage. Approximately 80 percent of the transmission line rebuild is expected to be done within or adjacent to existing rights of way. In most cases the existing 138 kilovolt (kV) facilities that were built in the 1920s-1940s will be replaced with 138 kV lines and somewhat taller and of heavier structures that can carry more current. Routing and construction details will be determined after additional field work is done.
The company will host two informational workshops in the project area, July 8 at Poca High School, Rt. 62, Poca, and July 9 at Kanawha City Elementary, 3601 Staunton Avenue, Kanawha City. The workshops will be from 5-8 p.m.
Once the field work is complete the Appalachian Power affiliate, AEP West Virginia Transmission Company, Inc., will file requests with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia seeking approval to perform the work. Construction is expected to begin this fall and the work is expected to be complete in 2017.
The electric distribution system in the Charleston area is largely served by five 138 kV transmission substations. At these substations the electricity is stepped down in voltage for consumers. Most residential and commercial consumers take power at 120/240 volts.
Customers can find more information about the Kanawha Valley Area Transmission Reinforcement Project at www.AppalachianPower.com/KanawhaValley.
Appalachian Power has about 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, which delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.
AEP West Virginia Transmission Company, Inc., an affiliate of Appalachian Power Company, is one of seven public utility companies that are wholly owned subsidiaries of AEP Transmission Company. AEP Appalachian Transmission Company was formed as a transmission-only company to finance, develop, construct, own and operate new transmission assets in APCO's West Virginia service territory that are physically connected to AEP's existing system.