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Edison Award Goes to AEP Transmission for Texas Project

by on June 13, 2016
Lisa Barton shares the Edison Award with (left to right) Tom Kuhn, EEI president, Michael Glueck, project manager, James Berger, managing director, Transmission Projects, and Scott Moore, vice president, Transmission Engineering and Project Services.

(Story by Stephen Ostrander)

AEP Transmission’s energized re-conductoring project in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) won the acclaimed Edison Award today (June 13) during the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) annual convention in Chicago.

The ceremony marked the fifth time AEP has been given the Edison Award, the highest honor offered by EEI.  The 2016 award recognized AEP Transmission’s planning and management of North America’s longest live-line re-conductoring project, in this case a pair of 120-mile, 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines stretching from Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Lower Rio Grand Valley (LRGV). The completion of the project greatly improves delivery of electricity and service reliability in southern Texas.

“This landmark achievement demonstrated that live-line re-conductoring over long distances is a safe and efficient construction method when outage and time constraints make conventional building techniques risky and expensive,” said Lisa Barton, executive vice president – AEP Transmission.

The Edison Award is the highest honor that EEI* offers. The judges reportedly were impressed by AEP‘s ability to install the innovative new conductor while lines remained energized, and the company’s willingness to share the lessons learned from the project with other utilities.

Necessity nurtures invention

AEP Transmission chose the energized re-conductoring strategy after learning that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the regional transmission organization overseeing bulk transfers of electricity for most of the Lone Star State, would be unable to grant outages for construction during the spring and summer building seasons. Since the two 345-kV lines were the principal transmission lines feeding electricity to the LRGV, de-energizing either line for even a short period would disrupt service to customers. That “outage disadvantage” combined with a mid-2016 deadline for re-conductoring both extra-high voltage lines called for the proverbial “thinking outside the box.”

“Given the situation with outages, we could not rely on traditional building methods to re-conductor the existing lines on time,” explained Scott Moore, vice president, Transmission Engineering and Project Services. “Energized re-conductoring was our best option. Quanta Services had the most experience and best technology to do the work.”

Industry firsts

AEP Transmission finished the project in November, eight months ahead of schedule.  Besides being the longest energized re-conductoring completed in North America, the project featured the largest installation of highly efficient advanced aluminum composite core conductor (ACCC) in the world. The company chose ACCC because it would double the capacity delivered to the LRGV and better withstand exposure to fierce hurricanes and salt spray.

AEP relied on Quanta Services’ patented LineMaster robotic arm technology to hasten the movement of energized lines and installation of conductor. The line contractor, North Houston Pole (also a Quanta subsidiary) and AEP Transmission also created unique building procedures for this project.

Since the line improvements were done in an energized state, AEP avoided the cost of buying power from alternative generation sources. Based on local area generation costs, the savings for 2014 and 2015 topped $43.3 million.

AEP last earned the Edison award in 2013 for construction of Turk Power Plant, the country’s first ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant. It won in 1998 for environmental responsibility, in 1956 for leadership in generation, transmission, and the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, and in 1953 for a supercritical plant and transmission above 330 kilovolts.

*Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, currently serves as chairman of the EEI board of directors. Judges for the 2016 Edison award were retired former EEI chairmen.

From → News From AEP

One Comment
  1. In addition to doubling the capacity of the existing circuits, it was also estimated that the improved efficiency of the ACCC conductor reduced line losses by 30% compared to the ACSR conductor it replaced. This translates into an annual savings of over 280,000 MWh of electricity. Based on the average emissions for all combined sources of generation in Texas, this also reduces CO2 emissions be over 166,000 Metric Tons per year. This is the equivalent of removing 35,000 cars from the road. The reduction in line losses also equates to freeing up over 34 MW of generation capacity

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