Appalachian Power wants to replace and upgrade electrical transmission equipment that serves customers in Patrick, Henry, Floyd, Franklin and Carroll counties. Graphic courtesy of Appalachian Power.

Appalachian Power has submitted an application to state regulators for a project to replace and upgrade electrical transmission equipment that serves customers in Patrick, Henry, Floyd, Franklin and Carroll counties.

The State Corporation Commission is beginning its review process. Appalachian said that typically takes eight to 12 months for a project of this size but the utility has asked the SCC to expedite this project due to need.

The process includes publishing public notices, conducting environmental reviews, receiving public comments, holding hearings and more.

“This extensive transmission improvements project modernizes these transmission facilities by replacing a dated 69-kilovolt (kV) electrical system with a reliable and resilient 138-kV system capable of supporting the area’s current power needs,” Scott Markwell, project manager for American Electric Power, which is Appalachian’s parent company, said in a news release.

Appalachian held open houses and a virtual town hall beginning in late 2021 to provide residents and landowners with information about the plan for what the utility calls the Stuart Area Improvements Project.

The project includes building approximately 25 miles of new 138-kV transmission line, rebuilding approximately 48 miles of line and removing 32 miles of line while building four substations and retiring four others, spokesperson George Porter said in an email.

Pending approval, construction on the first phase of the project is expected to begin in 2025, Appalachian said in a news release.

The utility hopes to have the project complete and in service in 2029, Porter said.

After that, the project, and any other new construction projects that are placed into service around that time, would be included in Appalachian’s subsequent Transmission Rate Adjustment Clause, or T-RAC, filing with the SCC, Porter said.

T-RAC clauses allow utilities to charge customers in order to recover costs associated with transmission projects.

“It’s important to know that this cost will be spread out evenly among all Appalachian Power customers, not just those in the project area,” Porter said.

If the SCC approves the plan, which the utility submitted last month, Appalachian said “landowners along the power line route will be contacted to discuss next steps.”

“Landowners within the SCC filing corridor, approximately 300 feet on both sides of the proposed centerline, can expect to receive a mailing in the coming months explaining how to participate in the project approval process,” Appalachian said.

Porter said the utility does not yet have a total of how many landowners would be affected because the final engineering work has not yet been completed. That will come if the SCC approves the project and after any necessary route adjustments are made.

Details about the project’s proposed route and timeline are available on the Stuart Area Improvements Project section of the AEP Transmission website.

Matt Busse is the business reporter for Cardinal News. Matt spent nearly 19 years at The News & Advance,...