Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), an operating unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP), on June 8 said that it plans to invest about $146m on the Valley Area Improvements Program to improve the electric transmission system in Van Buren, Berrien, and Cass counties in southwestern Michigan.
The Valley Area Improvements Program, which is comprised of the East Valley Upgrades Project and West Valley Upgrades Project, is essential to ensure continued reliable energy service, the company said, adding that PJM Interconnection has identified the need for enhancements to improve the reliability of the area’s electric grid.
According to a project fact sheet, the East Valley Upgrades Project in Van Buren and Cass counties includes rebuilding about 17 miles of 69-kV transmission line; upgrading about five miles of 34.5-kV line to 69 kV; upgrading about 12 miles of single circuit, 69-kV line to double circuit 69 kV/138 kV; and upgrading local substations.
The transmission line in southwest Michigan connects the Hartford substation in Hartford to the Almena substation in Paw Paw, then to the Rothadew substation in Wayne Township, the fact sheet noted.
The existing transmission infrastructure has reached an age where it is in need of rebuild and redesign to improve reliability for customers across the region, according to the fact sheet. To upgrade the line, aging wood poles will be replaced with steel monopoles, the fact sheet noted.
According to a separate project fact sheet, the West Valley Upgrades Project in Van Buren and Berrien counties includes rebuilding about 25 miles of 69-kV transmission line and upgrading local substations. Aging wood poles will be replaced with steel monopole structures and new wire with the same voltage, the fact sheet noted.
The transmission line connects the South Haven substation in South Haven to the Riverside substation in Benton Harbor, according to the fact sheet, which also noted that the infrastructure has reached an age where it needs to be replaced to better serve customers.
Each fact sheet included a project schedule for each project, and both project schedules noted that surveys and engineering, as well as right of way acquisition will occur in 2018; transmission line construction will occur in 2019; and the projects will be in service in 2021.
I&M said in its statement that an open house will be held on June 21 in Lawton on the East Valley Upgrades, and another one on the West Valley Upgrades will be held on June 22 in Coloma.