Appalachian Power today filed an application with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to construct a new $25 million electric transmission line. The company says the line would reinforce the electric grid and prevent potential overload conditions in the Montgomery County, Blacksburg and Christiansburg area that could occur as early as summer 2015.
Following a public comment period and environmental analysis, the company identified what it says is the least-impacting route possible for the 7.5 mile transmission line.
The new facilities, if approved, would be constructed using a combination of single pole structures with an average height of 100 feet in more developed areas and H-frame structures with an average height of 80 feet in more rural areas. Both types of structures will require a 100 foot-wide right of way.
Appalachian Power originally announced the Falling Branch-Merrimac project in 2008. After an initial comment period, the project was postponed. The company reitiated the project in 2011. Appalachian held multiple public workshops and received significant input from local government and property owners throughout the route identification process.
The company’s application identifies a preferred route for the project that minimizes human and environmental impacts. In addition to being the most direct route, the preferred corridor provides an opportunity to relocate approximately .6 mile of 69 kilovolt line in a densely populated area where the right of way has been encroached upon. The company is seeking approval of a 500-foot-wide corridor, within which the line will ultimately be constructed on a 100 foot-wide right of way.
Electric service in the area is primarily supplied by a single 138 kilovolt line and multiple 69 kV lines. Between 2003 and 2010, peak electric demand in the area increased by 34 percent to 278 megawatts and is expected to continue to grow steadily.
The addition of the new power line, which ties together existing electric substations and establishes a looped 138 kV system, will help prevent overloads and reduce the likelihood of interrupting electric service to the region. With a looped system in place, Appalachian can isolate problems when they occur and limit the disturbance they cause to customers, company spokesmen say.