Allegheny Energy, Inc. has filed an application seeking authorization to build a new 500-kV transmission line in West Virginia.

Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company, an Allegheny Energy subsidiary, filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission to build the West Virginia segment of the proposed Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line (TrAIL). The application includes the location of the preferred line route in the state. Independent experts concur that without the line, the region could experience blackouts by 2011.

Targeted for completion in 2011, the line will span Allegheny’s service territory from Southwestern Pennsylvania through West Virginia to Northern Virginia. Within West Virginia, the line will run about 114 miles, passing to the west of Morgantown in Monongalia County and traversing Preston, Tucker, Grant, Hardy and Hampshire counties before crossing into Virginia. As part of its review, the commission is expected to conduct public hearings for interested individuals to speak about the line.

“We determined our preferred route after careful study, which included the analysis of valuable input we received at public open houses,” said David E. Flitman, president, Allegheny Power and Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company. “We urge you to stay informed, keep an open mind and support a thorough, fair review of our plans by regulators.”

About 1500 individuals attended Allegheny’s 10 informational open houses across the study area for the proposed line. The purpose of the sessions was to show potential routes in the greatest detail possible and collect feedback. The company’s routing team heard remarks from residents who scanned detailed aerial photography showing homes and other landmarks, and also considered hundreds of written comments to create the best possible route for the line.

Without the line, the stability of the grid and reliable flow of electricity within the PJM region cannot be reasonably assured. This could result in blackouts, rolling blackouts and brownouts within West Virginia and other areas of PJM as early as 2011. PJM is the regional grid operator.

While the line is critical to the ongoing reliability of the grid, there are other benefits as well, including:

  • meeting the growing demand for electricity.
  • increasing west-to-east transfer capability, making cost-effective generation available to more customers.

Benefits to the West Virginia economy include:

  • expanding markets for local coal.
  • an estimated 700 jobs during the construction phase (2007-2011).
  • the potential for new generation projects, including clean-coal technologies.