Appalachian Power affiliate files request seeking regulatory approval for rebuild project in W.Va.

Appalachian Power affiliate AEP West Virginia Transmission Company (WV Transco) on Sept. 25 filed a request with West Virginia state regulators for approval to rebuild about 52 miles of existing transmission lines and install associated electrical components, part of the proposed Kanawha Valley Area Transmission Reinforcement Project.

Previous filings with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia requested approval for upgrades to substations, Appalachian Power, which is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) said on Sept. 26, adding that the bulk of the project 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 project will involve removing existing transmission facilities and replacing them with similar but sturdier facilities of the same voltage. About 80% of the transmission line rebuild is expected to be done within or adjacent to existing rights of way (ROWs).

Appalachian Power also said that construction is expected to begin this fall and be complete in 2017.

The cost for the entire project is estimated to be $337m, the company said, adding that since the project cost is spread among many states, there will be no noticeable rate impact.

An AEP spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Sept. 26 that work will begin on the project this fall, but most, or all of the work done this year, will be on AEP-owned property. The work will begin at the Kanawha River transmission station, the spokesperson said, adding that the PSC approved that portion of the project on Sept. 25.

According to the PSC order approving that portion, WV Transco applied in May for a certificate authorizing construction of new facilities at the Kanawha River station owned by WV Transco affiliate Appalachian Power Company (APCo).

WV Transco intends to install a transformer, capacitors and several circuit breakers at the station. WV Transco said the project responded to a directive to add the new equipment from PJM Interconnection to accommodate the retirement of certain coal-fired generation plants.

The order also noted that WV Transco estimated a total project cost of $19m and noted the need for an aggressive construction schedule. The company said the new facilities will enhance the reliability of electric service in the vicinity of Charleston, W.Va.

“[T]he commission concludes that the proposed facilities are necessary transmission infrastructure that will promote the public convenience,” the PSC said.

Sept. 25 filings

WV Transco submitted separate filings for the “southern project components” and the “northern project components” for the project.

According to the filings, PJM has identified certain transmission projects, including the Kanawha Valley Area project for AEP to build in Kanawha and Putnam counties in West Virginia to accommodate generation retirements affecting the state.

The project is divided into three portions: the northern and southern portions to be built by WV Transco, and a portion to be built by APCo as ordinary extensions of its existing transmission system.

According to the filing involving the southern portion, while construction of the northern and southern project components of the project is requested to begin in April 2014, the northern project components of the project must be placed in service by September 2016, prior to the completion of the construction of the southern project components, which must be placed in service by Dec. 31, 2016. The entire project is required by PJM to be placed in service by Dec. 31, 2016.

The southern project components consist of installing two 138-kV circuit breakers at the Chesterfield Avenue station; rebuilding the Ruth-Turner 138-kV transmission line, Hernshaw-Ruth 138-kV line and the Cabin Creek-Hernshaw 138-kV line all as double-circuit, resulting in a 138-kV double-circuit transmission line between the Turner and Cabin Creek stations; and rebuilding the Chesterfield Avenue 138-kV line from the Chesterfield Avenue station to the proposed double-circuit 138-kV line between the Turner and Cabin Creek stations.

About 75% of the line rebuild of the southern project components is expected to take place within or adjacent to existing ROWs, the company added.

According to the northern project components filing, about 90% of the transmission line rebuild of the northern project components will be built within existing ROWs and the remaining 10% in new ROWs.

As to the specific need for the northern components, the 138-kV transmission system north of Charleston will need to be reinforced as a result of the PJM generation retirement study. Due to the retirement of generation, the APCo system will be more reliant on regional power flows across the 138-kV system.

Presently, the company added, the 138-kV transmission facilities serving the northern portion of the Kanawha Valley from Amos station include the 138-kV Amos-Chemical No. 1 and 138-kV Amos Station-Chemical No. 2 lines and the 138-kV Amos-Turner No. 1 and the 138-kV Amos-Turner No. 2 lines.

PJM’s generation retirement study showed that all four of those 138-kV lines would become overloaded during certain double contingency outages when generation is retired.

The company also said that rebuilding the 138-kV Amos-Chemical No. 1 line into two separate circuits will provide the ability to rebuild a small piece of the 138-kV Amos to Chemical No. 2 line and to add a proposed third 138-kV line from the Amos 138-kV station to the Turner 138-kV station. That proposed third 138-kV line will relieve overload concerns on the Amos-Turner and Amos-Chemical 138-kV lines.

The company said in both filings that together, the northern project components and the southern project components are estimated to cost about $173m, with the southern project components estimated to account for about $115m of that total cost and to require about 33 months from the start of physical construction until they can be placed in service on Dec. 31, 2016.

WV Transco intends to finance its elements of the project through the use of the “AEP Money Pool” as approved by the PSC, the financing vehicles as approved by the PSC and any additional financing vehicles for which WV Transco may seek PSC approval, as required, the company added.

As to the need, the company noted that several federal environmental regulations, including the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule, will cause significant changes to generating capacity in the PJM region. As a result, various electric power generators have notified PJM that they plan to retire more than 13,000 MW of generating capacity.

According to PJM’s regional transmission expansion plan (RTEP), although the system is in compliance today, the retirement of that generation will cause thermal overloads of transmission facilities under various contingencies. The company also said that to avoid the prospective reliability violations, PJM mandated the components of the project in its 2012 RTEP.

Due to the increased flows across the 138-kV systems as a result of generation retirements, and with the reinforcement of the northern project components, the 138-kV southern system will need to be rebuilt to protect against thermal overloads, the company added in its southern projects component filing.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3112 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.