Appalachian Power plans electric transmission upgrades in Virginia, West Va.

Appalachian Power has announced plans to rebuild the existing South Bluefield-Wythe 69 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and add additional improvements to strengthen the transmission infrastructure in Southwest Virginia.

Appalachian Power is a utility subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).

The original line was built in 1917. Given population growth and development in the area, the approximately 21-mile transmission line will be upgraded from the current 69 kV to 138 kV standards to provide enhanced system reliability, operational flexibility and allow for future economic development in the area. Most of the work will be done in Bland and Wythe Counties, Va.; about one mile of work will be completed in Mercer County, W.Va.

Appalachian proposes to begin work in 2016 and complete it in 2018. The project will require approvals from the Virginia State Corporation Commission and the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.

“As Southwest Virginia continues to grow residentially and commercially, Appalachian Power needs to ensure we have a grid in place that is capable of supporting that growth,” said Mary Begley, external affairs manager. “These proposed upgrades will do just that while having minimal impact on the community and environment.”

Appalachian Power will announce and host a public workshop in the spring to provide additional information about the project and take input from the community. Information and updates about the Bland Area Improvements Project can be found at