Today's electric generation and delivery system is a marvel of modern engineering and ingenuity. And while the system's
complexity can be overwhelming when viewed as a whole, it's easy to understand when broken into its primary elements. This
simple illustration helps explain how electricity is transmitted to your home or business.
1) Electricity is generated at power plants.
2) The generated electricity is sent across high-voltage transmission lines.
3) The electricity arrives at intermediate stations where the voltage is lowered for distribution.
4) The electricity travels through cities and neighborhoods via distribution lines.
5) Before the electricity reaches you, the voltage is reduced to the 120 or 240 volts used in homes.
Unlike any other product, electricity must be delivered the instant it is being used. The electricity that lights a light bulb is instantly being generated at a power plant perhaps many miles away.
Undersized or overloaded components between the power plant and the distribution system can pose a threat to reliable service.
Just because you may not have a power plant, transmission line or electrical station in your neighborhood, don't assume these facilities aren't at work for you. Electricity must be generated the instant it is used. Therefore, to maintain reliable electrical service, all components of your electric company's system - generation (or power plants), transmission, and distribution - must be in balance and working together. If one element fails without adequate backup, the entire system is affected.
Electrical transmission lines are much like water pipes. In the case of transmission lines, the higher the voltage, the more electricity that can be transmitted, just like a wider water pipe can carry a larger volume of water. Electrical transmission lines operate at high voltages and carry large amounts of electricity over long distances. These power lines generally range in voltage from 46 kV to 765 kV; those in the upper levels of that range (above 230 kV) are called extra high-voltage (EHV) lines.
The average 345 kV circuit is typically capable of carrying five times the amount of electricity of a 138 kV circuit, and a 765 kV circuit is typically capable of carrying six times the amount of electricity of a 345 kV circuit.
AEP's power grid is capable of carrying more electric energy over longer distances at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour than any other system. The grid is tied in with the power systems of neighboring utilities at 143 interconnection points to the north, south, east and west.
These interconnections result in even greater reliability of electric service -- not only for AEP's customers, but for the tens of millions of customers served by the electric companies over much of the eastern half of the United States.
The backbone of AEP's transmission network is its 2,100 miles of 765 kV lines, stretching over six states. In 1969, AEP was the first electric company in the country to research, develop, build and operate such lines, and today the company has more miles of 765 kV lines transmission in service than all other U.S. electric utilities combined.
The Jacksons Ferry-Axton 765 kV transmission line crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Va. AEP used the topography of the land, and selective right-of-way clearing practices to obscure the view of the power line for Parkway travelers. By not cutting the right of way near the road, and by crossing the Parkway in a bend, it is difficult for travelers to notice the line.
Once AEP obtains approval to construct a facility it begins acquiring rights of way. Initial clearing starts, followed by constructing tower foundations, erecting transmission towers, stringing conductors and installing substation equipment to incorporate the new facility into the electric power grid.
AEP is a pioneer in electric transmission. A history of cutting edge advances in technology, including development and installation of 765 kV transmission lines, the highest voltage, most-efficient transmission lines in the country, continues today. The latest 765 kV technologies use a new six-bundle configuration that cuts audible noise from the project to half that of earlier generations of 765 kV lines.
Never one to rest on its laurels, AEP recently introduced BOLD or Breakthrough Overhead Line Design, a revolutionary new tower design that provides high capacity in a more compact and aesthetically pleasing form than typical transmission towers. BOLD provides a 50% increase in capacity over conventional lines operating at 345 kV. It also offers a 1/3 reduction in tower height with less line loss. Find out more.
For projects outside of the AEP service territory:
Tama Davis, Project Outreach Supervisor, firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-552-1662
For projects in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas:
Juliet Capeheart, Project Outreach Specialist, email@example.com or 918-599-2613
For projects in Ohio:
Brett Schmied, Project Outreach Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-552-1929
For projects in Virginia and West Virginia:
George Porter, Project Outreach Specialist, email@example.com or 540-562-7092
For projects in Indiana and Michigan:
Maggie Beggs, Project Outreach Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org or 260-466-7929
Please visit our project site.