A Kentucky legislative committee released a report last week calling the EPRI-GTC Transmission Line Siting Methodology the “best known” approach to “systematically identify transmission routes that have the least impact on surrounding landscapes.”

The EPRI-GTC approach for siting high-voltage electric transmission lines – developed by Georgia Transmission Corp (GTC), Atlanta, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, Calif. – was published by EPRI in February, 2006, as a national model. It outlines a new way to collaboratively rank features to be studied in large geographic areas in order to find the most suitable areas for high-voltage power lines. Several utilities have adopted the model, and it has received a national award for innovation from an association for electric cooperatives.

The legislative report, released last week by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, states that the EPRI-GTC approach results in “logical and more defensible siting decisions.” The report recommends that “a primer” on Kentucky’s adaptation of the EPRI-GTC methodology, known as the Kentucky Transmission Line Siting Model, be published on the Kentucky Public Service Commission Web site. It also recommends verification of the data Kentucky used to localize the EPRI-GTC methodology and periodic updating of the Kentucky model. The study of transmission line siting in Kentucky was initiated by the legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee, which approved a draft of the report in late 2007.

"East Kentucky Power Cooperative supports the committee's recommendations," said Mary Jane Warner, manager of engineering for generation & transmission operations at East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) in Winchester, Ky. "EKPC has used the EPRI-GTC methodology to route nearly 150 miles of overhead electric transmission lines, and we have found it very useful in helping our utility professionals make more informed decisions. The methodology is objective, open and transparent, and it addresses public and regulatory concerns in measurable and meaningful ways."

EKPC and E. ON U.S. sponsored a workshop in February 2006 to adapt the EPRI-GTC model for Kentucky use. Georgia Transmission, EPRI and Photo Science, Lexington, Ky., assisted in the process. The Atlanta office of Photo Science helped sponsor the ERPI-GTC study and developed the computer software suite for the siting model.

While geographic models employing satellite imagery, aerial photography and other data are common in the industry, the EPRI-GTC model is believed to be the first to have external stakeholders establish and rank factors to be considered, and it was the first to produce different suitability maps for manmade, environmental and engineering conditions.

"Using the EPRI-GTC methodology to develop a state-specific or regional-specific model, as Kentucky utilities have done, is exactly the approach we recommend,” said Jerry Donovan, GTC’s senior vice president. “The Kentucky report validates that the EPRI-GTC methodology helps engineers make consistent and defensible siting decisions. An objective model gives both utilities and regulatory agencies something to hang their hat on.”