Transmission lines link power generation sources to the load
centers where electricity is distributed to customers. A robust
transmission system is the key to ensuring the availability of a
diverse generation mix (coal, wind, gas, etc.). It also facilitates
interstate commerce and our national defense.
In order to keep pace with our growing needs, aging transmission
infrastructure will need to be replaced and the current system
expanded to facilitate use of new technologies.
Today’s electricity infrastructure is no longer intended to simply
provide reliable electric service to local consumers. It supplies bulk
power to wholesale markets across the country, stabilizing local
economies and localized electricity prices. The capabilities of the
existing transmission system are being stressed by localized load
growth, integration of new generation resources and lack of
investment. All of this stress causes major reliability concerns for
the electric industry.
Developments such as FERC Order 888, which opened access to
transmission to third parties in the mid-1990s, changed the
system’s dynamics. The grid is now the facilitator of an electricity
marketplace with many participants across wide geographic regions. This interconnected nature
means reliability issues in one region of the country can have widespread effects in other regions.
The addition of new types of generation — large scale wind, solar and shale gas, in particular— is
a major driver of changes to the transmission grid. Typically, these new resources are located far
from the load centers where the electricity is consumed, requiring major new transmission lines
and other changes to the system.
At the same time that these new types of generation are coming online, AEP and other companies
are retiring coal-powered generation units to comply with U.S. EPA emissions regulations. These
retirements further drive the need for AEP Transmission to rebuild, reconfigure and expand its
transmission network, especially in the company’s eastern territory.
Without new investment, the current transmission system will be hard pressed to meet demand
and effectively use the diverse generation resources available. This may lead to supply shortages
or to service interruptions. Prudent transmission planning must weigh all the new demands of the
system and should be designed to supersede the mindset of local or sub-regional planning.
Extra-high voltage (EHV) infrastructure should be considered as a solution for meeting growing
demand and facilitating the integration of renewable resources. These EHV lines are more energy
efficient, meaning less voltage is lost in the transmission process. By introducing more of these
lines, we can achieve a more reliable, flexible, and efficient transmission system. For example,
one 765 kV line can carry as much power as three 500 kV lines or six 345 kV lines, meaning fewer
will have to be constructed to achieve the same results. Of AEP’s more than 40,000 miles of
transmission, 8,139 miles are extra-high voltage lines.
AEP Transmission is investing in the future by creating the infrastructure needed for electric
reliability and economic growth. Upgrading and rebuilding existing infrastructure that is near the
end of its useful life is equally important. High-capacity, extra-high voltage lines are more energy
efficient than lower voltage lines and offer part of the solution to a more reliable, flexible and
resilient grid. In addition, new innovation and technology is needed to ensure that our electrical
grid continues to serve us well in the future.
With a product billed as the next generation of transmission
for its greater capacity and stylish design, BOLD
Transmission, a new subsidiary of AEP Transmission
Holding Company, boldly made its public debut with
technology aimed at providing the industry with sound
AEP believes the nation’s
transmission system must be
upgraded and enhanced. New
technologies, like BOLD, AEP’s
“Breakthrough Overhead Line
Design,” are necessary for a
more efficient and reliable grid
that meets the needs of
customers and communities
alike. Greater capacity and
connecting with renewable
generation sites are key to our