American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) on Jan. 20 filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for its proposal to rebuild the existing six-mile Glencoe-West Bellaire 69-kV electric transmission line in Belmont County, Ohio, as a double-circuit 138-kV line, with one side operated at 69 kV.
Due to increased customer load growth in the area stemming from the Utica shale gas play and numerous mining facilities, several 69-kV circuits and one 138-69-kV transformer were identified and forecast to be overloaded in the future under certain contingency conditions, the company said. Those violations were confirmed with PJM Interconnection as part of the 2019 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) Study, and approved as Baseline RTEP upgrades in January 2015, the company said.
The existing line has been in service since the 1930s and has deteriorated to a level that no longer adheres to AEP’s transmission line engineering standards, the company said.
Rebuilding the line would eliminate the risks for overloading, enhance reliability for area customers, resolve issues associated with the deterioration of the line, and bring the line up to current design standards, the company said.
The existing West Bellaire-Glencoe line provides 69-kV transmission service to the area, and serves the company’s distribution load at the Neffs station. The company added that the West Bellaire station serves as a critical 345-138-69-kV transmission source to the region, while the Glencoe station is an important 69-kV switching station for the local area, with five 69-kV circuit connections.
The rebuilt double-circuit line would continue to serve the area with 69-kV transmission service, but would be built to 138-kV design standards to enable future voltage conversion to support future load growth in the area. The company also said that the West Bellaire-Glencoe 138-kV circuit would facilitate the installation of a 138-69-kV transformer source at the Glencoe station in 2019. That new transformer would be a major reliability improvement for the area by off-loading several 69-kV circuits and 138-69-kV transformers, which were forecast to be overloaded in the coming years, the company said. The upgraded 69-kV side would serve the Neffs station, the company said.
The proposed project, which would be located in Pultney, Richland, and Smith townships of Belmont County, would extend from the existing West Bellaire station to the existing Glencoe station for a total length of about six miles. All of the proposed structures are anticipated to average 100 feet in height, with a proposed average span of 500 feet.
Since the existing 69-kV line cannot be taken out of service during construction without major service disruptions, rebuilding on the existing centerline is not possible, the company added, noting that the project would instead be built primarily within the existing right of way (ROW) offset by about 35 feet to allow for construction while the existing line remains in service.
The rebuild segments of the preferred route and alternate routes account for about 4.7 miles of the 5.8 to 6.1 miles of total lengths, the company said, noting that the rebuild sections include an approximately 0.5-mile offset from an existing 138-kV line exiting the West Bellaire station and 3.8 miles of offset from the existing West Bellaire-Glencoe 69-kV line. There are two crossovers of the existing 69-kV line by the rebuild sections to avoid two existing residences, the company said. Due to engineering requirements and potential impacts, preferred and alternate route deviations from the existing ROW were necessary around the Village of Neffs and at a crossing of four FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) 138-kV lines, the company said. The preferred route deviation around the Village of Neffs provides a shorter route and is better aligned with existing infrastructure than the alternate route that extends farther to the north, the company said.
The company also noted that the preferred route around the Village of Neffs is about 0.8 mile long, and it diverges from the existing Glencoe-West Bellaire 69-kV and other 138-kV lines ROW about 0.3 mile east of Dixon Hill Road. The preferred route crosses wooded rolling hills heading west for about 0.6 mile before turning southwest for 0.1 mile to rejoin the existing Glencoe-West Bellaire 69-kV ROW. In the area of the four American Transmission Systems, Incorporated (ATSI) 138-kV lines, the company added, the preferred route deviates from the existing ROW for about 0.7 mile to the north. The preferred route exits the existing ROW to the northwest for 0.4 mile, and then turns south and southwest for 0.25 mile to re-enter the ROW. The preferred route uses existing topographic changes and a valley to cross under the existing ATSI lines, the company added.
The closest residence to the alternate route is about 90 feet away, while the closest residence to the preferred route is about 110 feet away, the company said, adding, “Overall, the preferred route offers the best balance of meeting engineering requirements, impact minimization, and cost effectiveness.”
The preferred route, including the rebuild sections, is about 5.8 miles long and crosses about 45 parcels, the company said, adding that about 18 acres of new ROW would need to be acquired for the preferred route.
Estimates of applicable intangible and capital costs show that the preferred route has an estimated total cost of about $20.5m, while the alternate route has an estimated total cost of about $22.7m.
Among other things, AEP Ohio Transco said that, if the project is approved, it plans to begin construction of the transmission line in late 2017 or early 2018, and that the project has an estimated in-service date of summer 2019.
The application can be found at the Public Utilities’ Commission of Ohio website.