American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Ohio Transmission Company on March 15 filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the company’s proposed Ginger Switch-Vigo 138-kV Transmission Line Project located in Ross County, Ohio.
The project is externally known as the Liberty 138-kV Transmission Line Rebuild Project, and is part of the overall Ross-Jackson Area Improvements Project, which has been implemented to improve the reliability of the electric transmission grid in Ross and Jackson counties in Ohio.
The project involves rebuilding about seven miles of the existing Berlin-Ross 69-kV transmission line to 138-kV standards, the company added, noting that construction of the project is anticipated to begin in 1Q19 and end in 2Q21. Upon completion of the new line, the existing 69-kV line is planned to be removed.
The company also said that the purpose of the project is to replace aging equipment with modern structures and wires to improve electric service reliability. The existing Berlin-Ross 69-kV transmission line was built in 1926 and will be retired and replaced with a new 138-kV transmission line, although it would be initially energized at 69 kV. The company added that the project serves several distribution customers, which may not immediately be able to incur the cost burden of upgrading their facilities to 138-kV standards. By building the line to 138-kV standards, AEP Ohio Transco would be able to energize the line at 138 kV in an expedited fashion when necessary and once the proper funding has been secured from the distribution customers. The company also said that the benefits of the project include faster recovery of service after outages, fewer service interruptions, and overall improved service to customers.
The project begins at the existing Ginger switch located just west of C.R. 213A (Ginger Hill Road), the company said, noting that improvements to that switch are required as part of the rebuild effort and would be filed in a separate letter of notification to the OPSB.
The project – which is located within Harrison, Jefferson, Liberty, and Springfield townships in Ross County – continues about seven miles southeast to the existing Vigo substation, located off of Vigo Road, just south of Vigo, Ohio.
The estimated $16.7m, 7.2-mile preferred route begins at the existing Ginger switch station and proceeds southeast, paralleling the southern edge of the existing Berlin-Ross 69-kV transmission line right of way (ROW) through agricultural land use for about 0.4 mile, and it then crosses to the northern edge of the existing ROW, the company added. The preferred route parallels the northern edge of the existing ROW through agricultural and forested land uses and rural residential areas for about 2.7 miles, and it then aligns with the existing 69-kV line near the community of Londonderry. The preferred route continues about 0.7 mile through agricultural land use and rural residential areas, the company added. Within that 0.7-mile portion, the alignment incorporates a slight adjustment away from the existing 69-kV line to maximize distance between residences along Smith Lane.
The preferred route then deviates from the existing centerline by heading southeast and south through agricultural land use for about 0.7 mile, before rejoining the existing ROW south of U.S. Route 50, the company added.
The preferred route continues on the existing transmission centerline for about 0.5-mile through agricultural land use before it deviates from the existing 69-kV line by heading south and southeast through agricultural land use for about 0.2 mile, the company said, noting that that adjustment was made to avoid a structure encroachment within the existing ROW.
The preferred route then proceeds southeast, paralleling the southern edge of the existing ROW through agricultural and forested land uses and rural residential areas for about 1.3 miles. The preferred route then realigns with the existing 69-kV line for about 0.7 mile before reaching its southern terminus at the existing Vigo substation, the company added.
The preferred route is located within 1,000 feet of 116 residences, none of which are within the planned potential disturbance area. The company also said that the preferred – and alternate – route is located within 1,000 feet of two commercial buildings, neither of which are within the planned potential disturbance area. Recreational land is not crossed by the centerline or ROW for either the preferred or alternate route, the company noted.
The potential impacts of the project on agricultural land use include damage to crops that may be present, disturbance of underground field drainage systems, compaction of soils, and temporary reduction of crop productivity. The company added that agricultural land within the preferred and alternate route ROWs is estimated at 24.2 acres and 14.7 acres, respectively. AEP Ohio Transco said that it would work with the agricultural landowners to resolve conflicts with drainage tiles and irrigation systems that are affected by the project, where necessary.
Among other things, the company said that it has limited the potential aesthetic impacts of the line to the extent possible through the route selection process, and where practical, paralleling or rebuilding on centerline of an existing transmission line, which the project accomplishes.