AEP ponders 1600 km EHV link

3 December 2008

US utility AEP says that it wants to foster the development and reliability of the USA’s power system through construction of a 1600 km extra high voltage transmission line in the Upper Midwest.

AEP is evaluating the feasibility of the proposed project, which is part of the company’s vision of an expanded national transmission grid supporting the development of large-scale renewable energy projects.

The project envisages construction of a 765 kV extra high voltage line that would connect major wind developments in the Dakotas and surrounding states to the region’s existing 765 kV network that ends in Chicago. It is in the conceptual stage, but AEP believes that it would require more than 1600 km of new transmission infrastructure to be developed at a cost of $5-10 billion.

“A critical component of our nation’s approach to addressing climate change is the ability to harvest our most viable renewable generation resources,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer. “The Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa have some of the very best wind generation resources in the United States, but the wind potential in this region cannot be developed unless we build a very efficient transmission superhighway to bring this generation to electricity load centers.”

The western terminus of the new line would be near a 2000 MW wind farm project in North Dakota being developed by Hartland Wind Farm LLC, which is collaborating with AEP on the project. The project’s scope and size means that it would be built in stages over a ten-year period.

“Extending extra-high voltage 765 kV transmission lines into the Upper Midwest will provide significant economic, environmental and reliability benefits, including fostering development by ensuring access to new generation sources,” said Morris. “A 765 kV transmission line requires less land to carry more power than lower-voltage lines, and the 765-kV line would cost less than half as much to build on a dollar-per-megawatt basis.”

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