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ApCo moving ahead with transmission upgrades

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Appalachian Power is moving forward with its plans to spend $337 million on a project to upgrade electrical transmission lines and related facilities in West Virginia.

The American Electric Power subsidiary has filed four petitions with the state Public Service Commission for various parts of the project, and one of them received PSC approval earlier this week.

On Wednesday, ApCo lawyers filed two petitions for key parts of the project to rebuild about 52 miles of existing power transmission lines and making upgrades to substations, mostly between Appalachian's John Amos Plant near St. Albans and a substation near Cabin Creek.

ApCo said the work is needed to replace some facilities that were built in the 1920s to 1940s and a "backbone" power line from Poca to Cabin Creek that was last reinforced four decades ago.

In all, the company estimates that the costs of the updates amount to about 14 cents per month for an average customer whose monthly bill is currently $94, said ApCo spokesman Phil Moye. ApCo has not yet asked for any rate increases, and any such filings would come much later, the company said.

The rebuild involves removing existing 138-kilowatt transmission towers and replacing them with sturdier towers that can carry the same voltage, but more electrical current. The new towers will be up to 120 feet fall, compared with existing towards, which are about 100 feet tall, ApCo has said.

Company officials also have said the upgrades are needed because of the retirement of the Kanawha River Plant in Glasgow and the Philip Sporn Plant at New Haven.

The project includes rebuilding existing lines that run through Kanawha State Forest.

PSC officials already approved one part of the project, which involves replacing a transformer at the Kanawha River Plant site. Pending is a request concerning upgrades near the Sporn site and the company's adjacent Mountaineer Plant.

The two other PSC petitions concern the northern and southern part of the company's plan to upgrade transmission lines.

The northern part runs from near the John Amos Plant to near South Charleston, while the southern route runs from near South Charleston to Cabin Creek. About 90 percent of the line rebuilds in the northern route will occur within existing rights-of-way, while about 75 percent of the southern route is within existing rights-of-way, according to the company's PSC filing.

More information about the Kanawha Valley Area Transmission Reinforcement Project is available online at www.AppalachianPower.com/KanawhaValley.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.


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