AEP Line Gets VA OK After 10-Year Wait

It took 10 years, but a recent order by the Virginia Corporation Commission (VCC) finally allows American Electric Power to move forward with the construction of a 765,000-volt transmission line. The state commission determined that immediate action was needed in order to reinforce the transmission system in southwestern Virginia.

According to the VCC, the transmission line will enter Virginia from West Virginia near Tazewell. The route chosen by the state commission is 43 miles shorter, affects fewer homes and its impact on the environment is less than the preferred route originally proposed by AEP, the VCC noted. In its final order, the VCC said, "Unfortunately, any of the alternatives we have considered would have undesirable impacts that may, in some individual instances, be significant." At the same time, the state commission went on to note that "the record demonstrates clearly the potential negative consequences of failing to take appropriate action."

The company first sought approval of a transmission line in 1991, and refiled its application in 1997. The estimated cost for constructing the line is $214 million.

The VCC pointed out that the last major reinforcement of AEP's transmission system in southwest Virginia was completed in 1973. There have been no additional "backbone" transmission lines added in the area since. However, the demand on the transmission system has increased by 136%, according to the state commission. Future demand for electricity is forecasted to increase at 2.2% per year.

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