Investment in Transmission Needed Now
As the largest builder, owner, and operator of transmission in North America, we need to make investments in our vast and aging transmission system to ensure customer reliability. This is an industry-wide concern for electric companies, made major investments in power generation in past years to comply with federal regulations.
Strengthening the Infrastructure
Our transmission system is part of an electrical machine dating back as long as a century. Many parts built in the early 20th century are deteriorating in performance, despite continued, costly maintenance and periodic investment.
Since 2012, we have been engaged in an infrastructure investment program to strengthen, improve, and modernize our 11-state transmission system. We operate part of a larger power grid which includes older, deteriorating equipment that is at a higher risk of failure and more susceptible to harsh weather-related stressors than newer, physically stronger transmission.
We are investing approximately $9-billion between 2017-2019 to add modernized design standards to enhance reliability, efficiency, and resiliency for protection against threats. Our data indicates that, after investment in aging infrastructure, customer outages are reduced by 97-percent – as compared with performance prior to the improvement.
A Grid that Meets Today’s Technological Needs
Sections of the power grid must be upgraded or re-built to integrate with today’s digital and other newer technology. This includes being able to incorporate increasing amounts of renewable energy. Monitoring equipment and telecommunications for physical and cybersecurity must meet today’s needs.
Our Advanced Studies & Technology group evaluates system performance and conditions of aging transmission equipment to identify and prioritize which portions should be replaced to provide the most customer benefit.
Other impacts of transmission investment:
- A robust transmission system supports growth and attracts industry and jobs. The $9-billion investment between 2017-19 is estimated to provide $12.7-billion in economic activity – supporting 34,000 jobs, nearly $13-billion in economic activities, and providing more than $600-million in additional state and local tax revenues.
- Around 70-percent of all goods and services for transmission projects are sourced from within AEP’s 11-state territory, providing wide-reaching economic stimulus.
We work with Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) to evaluate the system on a continuous basis to determine where and when investments should be made. Careful planning in the construction of transmission projects should allow these investments to have almost no direct effect on individuals. Some communities may see an increase in construction activity as projects are built, however the benefits will accrue almost immediately.