Appalachian Power expects to begin construction this fall on the Kanawha Valley Area Transmission Reinforcement Project, which includes rebuilding about 52 miles of existing transmission lines and making upgrades to substations in West Virginia.
The work, which is expected to be complete in 2017, is being prompted by upcoming power plant retirements in the Kanawha and Ohio valleys as early as 2015, which will change the way electric power flows on the transmission grid, the company added on June 26.
To accommodate those changes and address other issues, AEP West Virginia Transmission Company, an Appalachian Power affiliate, will file requests this year with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia seeking approval to perform the work, most of which is slated for the Kanawha Valley.
The bulk of the Kanawha Valley work will occur between the company’s John Amos plant in Putnam County and its Turner and Cabin Creek substations, both in Kanawha County, with a key loop in the Cross Lanes area in Kanawha County and another in the Kanawha City area.
The company also said that 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 that backbone took place almost 40 years ago.
The rebuild will involve removing current transmission facilities and replacing them with similar yet sturdier facilities of the same voltage. Appalachian Power also said that about 80% 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 to 1940s will be replaced with 138-kV lines that can carry more current, supported by somewhat taller and heavier structures.
Routing and construction details will be determined after additional field work is complete.
The electric distribution system in the Charleston area is mostly served by five 138-kV transmission substations, at which the electricity is stepped down in voltage for consumers. The company also noted that most residential and commercial consumers take power at 120/240 volts.
Appalachian Power President and COO Charles Patton said in the statement that the “upgrades not only meet the immediate need to strengthen the grid, but position the region well for growth in the future.”
Two informational workshops in the project area are scheduled for July 8 and 9, the company said.
Appalachian Power is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).