APCo to begin construction in April on estimated $14m Duffield Area Improvements Project

Appalachian Power Company (APCo) on April 13 said that it plans to begin construction this month on the estimated $14m Duffield Area Improvements Project to better serve customers in Scott County, Va.

The project involves upgrading about 15 miles of transmission line from 34.5-kV to 69-kV, building about two miles of new 138-kV transmission line, building the new Duffield substation, as well as retiring and removing the existing Sunbright substation. The company added that all construction will take place in Scott County near Jefferson National Forest.

According to a project fact sheet, the lines to be upgraded run west from Hill substation just north of Sallings Monument Lane. The lines cross several roads, including Clinch River Highway and Rye Cove Memorial Road, before reaching a new connection point just east of the Jefferson National Forest. A new two-mile line will run west from the connection point to the new Duffield substation just north of Natural Tunnel Parkway, the company said.

Construction is expected to begin this spring, the company said in its statement, noting that all work associated with the first phase of construction will be done within existing right of way (ROW). The second phase of construction, which includes the building of the new transmission line and substation, will take place on easements and property that it previously acquired, APCo said.

New structures in the existing ROW will be about 60 feet tall, the company said in its fact sheet, adding that structures in the new ROW will be about 100 feet tall.

A company spokesperson told TransmissionHub on April 13 that the project falls below the high voltage threshold in Virginia, so it is not one that goes to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) for review, consideration and approval. The project has, however, been considered by the Scott County Board of Supervisors, as well as required state and local construction and environmental permitting, he said.

The project has all of the necessary approvals for construction to begin, he said.

APCo said in its fact sheet that it identified the need to address electric reliability concerns during the winter of 2014. Aging infrastructure and extreme weather contributed to equipment reaching its maximum capacity, the company said, adding that building new transmission facilities and upgrading the existing ones provide a network capable of reducing the possibility of major power outages.  

The company said in its statement that the project, which is part of the $645m investment in announced system upgrades of transmission infrastructure in southwestern Virginia, is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

According to the company’s website, projects in Virginia pending approval are the Abingdon & Washington County Area Improvements project, the Bland Area Improvements Project and the Tazewell–Buchanan Area Improvement Project.

The estimated $50m Abingdon and Washington County Area Improvements project was announced last September and will proceed in two phases: the South Abingdon Extension and the Washington County Improvements.

The company also said that the Bland Area Improvements Project will address potential thermal and voltage violations by upgrading the transmission grid in southwest Virginia, as well as help provide continued reliable service to customers in the region.

The $50m Tazewell–Buchanan Area Improvement Project in Tazewell and Buchanan counties will ensure adequate and reliable local electric service and provide for economic growth, APCo said. That project includes adding about 7.5 miles of new 138-kV transmission line in Tazewell and Buchanan counties.

APCo also said that approved projects in Virginia are the Cloverdale project, Cloverdale–Lexington Improvement Project, South Lynchburg Area Improvements project, and the Wythe Area Improvements projects.

APCo said that the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved the Cloverdale project, located in Botetourt County, in January 2014. Also, the estimated $35m Cloverdale–Lexington Improvement Project is expected to be complete this year.

The company further noted that the South Lynchburg Area Improvements project involves an upgrade in the electric infrastructure that serves parts of the city of Lynchburg and Campbell County. Of the Wythe Area Improvements Project, APCo said that it plans to build about 17 miles of 138-kV transmission line to ensure continued reliable service to its customers in Wythe, Carroll, Grayson and Smyth counties.

Besides the Duffield Area Improvements Project, the other current project in Virginia is the Roanoke Area Switching Improvements project, the company said. The estimated $30m Roanoke Area project involves making upgrades to 14 existing substations in central Virginia, APCo said.

APCo is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3066 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.