West Virginia regulators OK Appalachian Power's upgrade plan

Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:18pm EST

Jan 24 (Reuters) - West Virginia regulators approved Appalachian Power's $173 million plan to upgrade transmission facilities in the Kanawha Valley to help ensure system reliability as several coal-fired power plants shut over the next several years.

Appalachian Power, a unit of U.S. power company American Electric Power Co Inc, said in a press release that it did not request a rate increase related to the project.

AEP said it plans to shut the 400-megawatt Kanawha River coal plant and the remaining units at the 580-MW Sporn plant, both in West Virginia, in 2015.

Those shutdowns, combined with other plant closures in the region, are changing the way power flows on the transmission grid, AEP said.

AEP said the last major reinforcement to this backbone electric grid was nearly 40 years ago. The company said that in most cases, the existing 138-kilovolt (kV) facilities that were built in the 1920s to 1940s will be replaced with larger 138-kV lines and taller and heavier structures.

AEP expects to complete construction of the project in 2017.

Appalachian Power serves 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.