American Electric Power's 765-kV joint transmission line proposal with Allegheny Energy Inc. was approved by PJM Interconnection (PJM).
The PJM board included the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) project in their five-year PJM Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) designed to maintain the reliability of the transmission grid. The PJM plan approves the building of 250 miles of 765-kV extra-high voltage trans- mission from AEP's Amos substation near St. Albans, W.Va., to Bedington substation, northeast of Martinsburg, W.Va. Another 40 miles of transmission, consisting of twin-circuit 500-kV transmission, will be constructed from Bedington to a new substation to be built at Kemptown, located southeast of Frederick, Md.
AEP and Allegheny announced plans April 18 to form a joint venture to build PATH. The total project is estimated to cost approximately $1.8 billion. AEP's estimated share of the costs will be approximately $600 million. The PJM RTEP calls for the PATH line to be put in service by June 2012 to meet the reliability needs of the region.
"PJM approval allows us to move forward with construction of a significant portion of the I-765(TM) transmission superhighway that is urgently needed to help relieve transmission congestion and enhance reliability in PJM. PJM's analysis shows that the transmission system in this region will be overloaded as soon as 2012 unless upgrades are made. This project will expand the benefits of 765-kV extra-high voltage transmission in PJM to enhance reliability and address issues preventing efficient flow of electricity into this area," said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer.
AEP and Allegheny expect to formalize their joint venture agreement for PATH within the coming weeks and file for incentive rate recovery from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). AEP and Allegheny also will begin work on a routing study and environmental assessment for the project. The companies will seek regulatory approvals from the utility commissions in both West Virginia and Maryland for the project following the completion of the routing study.
AEP will have lead responsibility for engineering, designing and managing the construction of the 765-kV elements of the project. Allegheny will have similar responsibilities for the twin-circuited 500-kV line. Each company will provide services to the joint venture for siting, acquiring rights-of-way, securing regulatory approvals from the states the line crosses and maintenance of the project.
The PATH project encompasses the first half of the AEP I-765(TM) Interstate Project, a 550-mile, $3 billion 765-kV transmission line proposed by AEP in January 2006. The remaining portion of AEP's proposed I-765(TM) Interstate Project from Kemptown Station into New Jersey remains under study by PJM and is not part of the joint venture.