American Electric Power has received the Edison Electric Institute’s 2016 Edison Award for its Energized Reconductor Project in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. A panel of former electric company chief executives selected AEP for the 89th annual award from a group of distinguished finalists.
AEP made the decision to upgrade the two 345-kilovolt transmission lines the company uses to deliver power in South Texas. Taking the transmission lines out of service was not an option, due to a significant projected increase in energy demand over the next five years. Using new technologies, AEP was able to replace all 240 miles of line while they were in an energized state utilizing existing structures and right-of-ways. By completing the project in an energized state, AEP did not need alternative generation sources, resulting in an approximate savings of more than $43 million. Completion of this innovative project benefits customers by improving the reliability of the energy grid in South Texas for years to come.
"The electric power industry is making significant investments in new technologies to improve the reliability and resiliency of the energy grid,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “AEP’s Lower Rio Grande Valley project accomplished an incredible technical feat by replacing a record length of transmission lines while the lines remained energized. Traditional construction methods would have required taking those lines out of service, but AEP developed an innovative technical solution that permitted the company to successfully upgrade the system while maintaining service and reliability."
The Rio Grande Valley Energized Reconductor Project is a cutting-edge accomplishment for both AEP and the electric power industry. Through its innovative partnerships with Quanta Services and CTC Global, AEP utilized several advanced technologies that accelerated the work schedule and increased safety. The Energized Barehand work methods and LineMaster Robotic Arm technologies made it possible for all 240 miles of conductor to be removed and replaced without interrupting the flow of electricity.
“AEP’s Lower Rio Grande Valley project is a terrific example of an energy company using innovative technologies to provide cost-cutting solutions for customers,” said Kuhn. “The dedicated team at AEP is leading the way and truly deserves the 2016 Edison Award.”