The Ohio Power Siting Board on March 11 authorized, with conditions, American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) unit AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Transco) to build the 17.2-mile, 138-kV Elk transmission line in Vinton and Jackson counties in Ohio.
The line is designed to improve and maintain electric service reliability in the Athens, Ohio, area, specifically replacing the Floodwood-Berlin 69-kV line, the board added.
“For the Elk project, we are in the process of completing the acquisition of rights-of-way,” an AEP spokesperson told TransmissionHub on March 12. “Construction is expected to begin in August 2013. Completion dates are September 2014 for the northern portion of the project and September 2015 for the southern portion of the project.”
As required by state law, AEP Transco proposed a preferred and an alternate route for the project, with both proposals sharing a 13.5 mile-long common route, from the Poston-Lick 138-kV transmission line, running to the east of McArthur, Ohio, the board said. From there, the preferred route travels along an existing line corridor for 3.7 miles into Jackson County, Ohio.
According to the opinion, order and certificate, the preferred route continues along the Floodwood line to the Poston line for 3.7 miles and would allow for 13.3 miles of the Poston line that runs through the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources managed forest, to be taken out of service.
The estimate for intangible and capital costs for the preferred route is $29.32m.
The board said that AEP Transco filed an application on Jan. 3, 2012, for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to build the line. On Dec. 7, 2012, AEP Transco and board staff filed an agreement that addressed concerns between the two parties.
According to the order, the proposed line will allow for sufficient capacity to prevent overloads of critical facilities and for future growth in the area. The proposed project would replace the current 69-kV line, which is more than 90 years old and has poor circuit outage history.
“Staff provides that while the proposed project was not identified in the most recent PJM [Interconnection regional transmission expansion plan (RTEP)], PJM has modeled the Elk project system improvements and found no system violations with the proposed project,” the order said.
In the stipulation approved in the order, the parties agreed, among other things, that AEP Transco conduct a preconstruction conference before beginning any construction activities for each discrete stage of the project. At least 30 days before that conference, AEP Transco is to submit to staff one set of detailed engineering drawings of the final project design, including the transmission line, electric tower and pole locations and temporary and permanent access roads so that staff can determine that the final project design is in compliance with the certificate’s terms.
Furthermore, AEP Transco is to submit a construction access plan to staff before the start of each stage of project construction. The parties also agreed that AEP Transco have a vegetation management plan and submit that plan to staff for review before construction begins.
Among other things, the parties also agreed that general construction activities are to be limited from 7 a.m., to 7 p.m., or until dusk when sunset occurs after 7 p.m.
“[T]he board approves and adopts the stipulation and hereby issues a certificate to AEP Transco for the construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed transmission line, on the preferred route,” the board said.
Update on other projects
The AEP spokesperson provided an update on other transmission projects: the Vassell substation project, the Trent-Vassell transmission line and the Biers Run substation project.
The Vassell substation, which, according to the company’s website is a 765/345/138-kV substation near Sunbury in Delaware County, Ohio, is under construction, she said.
The Trent-Vassell transmission line, which, according to the website is a 3.1-mile overhead 138-kV line that will connect AEP Ohio’s Trent station to the company’s new Vassell station, was approved and construction is scheduled to begin in April, she said.
Finally, for the Biers Run substation, which, according to the website is a new high-voltage 345/138/69-kV transmission substation in Union Township, Ohio, the company is waiting for the siting board to set hearing dates.
“When dates are set, we will publish the two required notices, the hearings will take place and then the siting board will issue its decision — [taking] about 60 days,” she said.