American Electric Power (AEP) and Allegheny Energy on Tuesday said they had jointly filed an application seeking authorization to build a proposed electric transmission line in West Virginia.

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) consists of a 765-kV transmission line extending nearly 280 miles from the Amos Substation in Putnam County, W.Va., to the proposed Kemptown Substation in Frederick County, Md. The project also includes an additional substation, Welton Spring, in northwestern Hardy County, W.Va.

The filing with the West Virginia Public Service Commission marks the beginning of the state regulatory review for the project, which is expected to last approximately one year. Similar filings for the project will occur in Maryland and Virginia within the next seven to 10 days, the companies said.

PATH seeks to strengthen the regional transmission grid and directly address concerns about the existing system’s ability to reliably deliver power to customers. PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator directing the construction of PATH, has determined that the project is critical to addressing regional reliability concerns. PJM’s latest analysis confirms that significant reliability problems could result in blackouts and brownouts in the region, beginning in 2014, if PATH is not completed.

“The PATH project is vital to the reliability of the electricity grid serving this region,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chair, president, and CEO. “We understand the concerns about the impact of transmission lines and will work with the states and landowners to address concerns. But it is critical that we reinforce the transmission infrastructure to ensure we can continue to supply reliable electrical service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

“We are committed to working closely with the public throughout this process to satisfy the region’s energy needs while balancing the interests of those affected by the project,” said Paul J. Evanson, chairman, president, and CEO of Allegheny Energy. “We encourage the public to stay informed and support the states’ process for evaluating our proposal.”

To develop the application, the project siting team worked to identify a route that minimized PATH’s effect on all factors of the natural and human environment, while avoiding unreasonable and circuitous routes as well as extreme costs. The proposed route parallels existing transmission lines in many areas, including nearly the entire 100-mile segment between the proposed Welton Spring and Kemptown substations.

Since July 2008, the PATH project team hosted 24 public open houses across the study area, attended by more than 2,500 individuals. The sessions provided an overview of the project and gathered input from interested stakeholders. Throughout the process, the routing team reviewed nearly 3,000 written comments as well as mark-ups identifying homes and other landmarks through field inspections and detailed aerial photography.

Source: PATH