AEP, ABB form alliance to develop advanced technologies for extra-high voltage transmission

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 20, 2007 – American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and ABB (NYSE: ABB) have entered into an alliance to develop advanced technologies to enhance 765-kilovolt (kV) extra-high voltage transmission.

The alliance involves a non-exclusive collaboration to study and bring to market new designs, equipment and systems for use on 765-kV extra-high voltage transmission for potential deployment on the AEP transmission system and across the industry. Through the agreement, the companies will establish teams of technical experts to coordinate identification, development and engineering of advanced extra-high voltage transmission technologies to improve current designs and support development of a more robust interstate transmission grid.

“AEP pioneered extra-high voltage transmission in the United States and has built a 2,100-mile 765-kV transmission network that is arguably the most reliable in the world,” said Michael Heyeck, AEP senior vice president, Transmission. “As we move forward in a period of critical growth in transmission, we must constantly pursue design improvements that provide the most advanced, proven transmission technologies available to reliably transport electricity for decades.

“ABB played a key role in developing our current transmission grid and collaborated with AEP on ultra-high voltage (above 1,000 kV) research in the 1970s and 1980s. Collaborating with ABB on this effort will bring together some of the world’s transmission experts to focus on enhancing the performance of extra-high voltage transmission and achieving our vision of creating the most reliable, efficient transmission network possible,” Heyeck said.

"This alliance confirms ABB´s reputation in the marketplace as a leading supplier of advanced technical solutions to the electric power industry and is a tremendous endorsement of ABB’s strategy to invest extensively in Research and Development,” said Enrique Santacana, regional manager, ABB North America and president & CEO, ABB Inc. "This team and the resulting technologies will lead the way in improving the efficiency of the national transmission network and establish a new standard for grid reliability on the AEP system."

Some of the technology concepts that AEP and ABB will explore include:
  • Independent phase operation to enable each of the three phases of transmission lines to operate independently so that only a faulted phase remains open to allow for reliable redispatch of the system. Typically, all phases of a line trip for any fault.

  • Next-generation substation automation and equipment to enable smart grid controls and improved equipment performance.

  • Creative “on ramp” and “off ramp” substation configurations for 765-kV transmission to allow connection to existing systems in urban areas and to accommodate distributed generation resources, such as wind, and to address other network limitations.

AEP and ABB also will investigate methods for reducing 765-kV line losses, which consequently will reduce the need to build new generation.

“Compared with average transmission line losses of three percent, line losses on the newest 765-kV transmission lines already have been reduced by 40 percent to less than 0.75 percent as a result of new six-bundle conductor configuration. Our goal is to reduce line losses even further,” Heyeck said.

The six-bundle conductor configuration was deployed on AEP’s 90-mile Wyoming-Jacksons Ferry 765-kV transmission project that was energized in June 2006.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 111,000 people.

American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning more than 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.
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Melissa McHenry
Manager, Corporate Media Relations