ABINGDON, Va. — Appalachian Power wants to improve the reliability of electricity in Southwest Virginia by adding a new substation in Abingdon.
So AP officials are planning to seek approval for a $50 million transmission project that will also include upgrading six existing substations and adding 11 miles of transmission line.
As proposed, the new substation would be built on Vances Mill Road at the current site of the Abingdon Stockyard, which would be torn down.
Last week, the project was considered by the Washington County Board of Supervisors, which voted to concur with the recommendation of the county’s Planning Commission.
According to Mary Bagley, external affairs manager of Appalachian Power, the company first identified the need for electric infrastructure upgrades in January 2013, when single digit temperatures resulted in a high demand for power.
The upgrades would provide the area with a more reliable, modern network capable of handling increased load while reducing the likelihood of power outages during extreme weather.
The proposed transmission line originates from an existing Appalachian Power transmission line on the west side of Abingdon. From there, preliminary routes run south out of Abingdon across I-81 into Washington County before turning southeast to connect with the proposed five-acre substation on Vances Mill Road. Three proposed routes continue east from the new substation to an end point at Arrowhead Substation east of Jeb Stuart Highway.
“Some of the routes are longer than others, but we want to find the best way to get from point A to point B. The idea is to holster the whole system and connect them into the smaller substations and the six distribution stations,” said AEP spokesman John Shepelwich.
“The electric needs of the town of Abingdon and Washington County are growing,” Begley said. “Work that Appalachian is planning will address those needs and provide a transmission grid capable of handling future growth. This investment in our system provides Abingdon and Washington County with a network that can help attract new businesses to the area while allowing existing companies to compete and expand.”
Appalachian Power will host an open house from 5-8 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon to share details about the project with the community. Anyone with property in the area is encouraged to attend.
After the open house, AP plans to file an application with the Virginia State Corporation Commission seeking approval to construct the project. If approved, construction would begin in 2017 and be completed by fall 2018.