Appalachian Power to upgrade electric power grid in West Virginia

Appalachian Power will file requests with regulators in 2013 to make more than $337 million in electric transmission grid upgrades in West Virginia.

According to the American Electric Power (AEP) utility company, upcoming power plant retirements in the Kanawha and Ohio valleys as early as 2015 will change the way electric power flows on the electric power grid, necessitating these grid improvements.

The upgrades include rebuilding about 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. About 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 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 fieldwork is done.

Once the field work is complete the Appalachian Power affiliate, AEP West Virginia Transmission Co., 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.

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