Transmission infrastructure

The issue

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.

power lines

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 transmission solutions.

AEP Position

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 energy future.

Issues In Electricity

Issues In Electricity

Infrastructure Needs

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