Georgia Transmission Corp. has completed a 39-mile 500-kV transmission power line connecting substations in Thomson, Georgia, and Warthen, Georgia. The line marks the company’s first project of its size in two decades, its first of many new lines in a major upgrade of the state’s power grid and a new design for 500-kV power lines.

Georgia Transmission, a not-for-profit cooperative that builds and maintains high-voltage infrastructure on behalf of 39 of the state’s 42 Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs), began planning for the $48 million project in late 2004. The 500-kV line, to be energized in the summer of 2010, is the largest type of power line built in Georgia. Georgia’s electric co-ops are not-for-profit utilities that provide power to more than four million Georgians.

“Georgia’s energy demand has nearly doubled since 1990 due to growth in population and per-capita energy use,” said John Raese, Georgia Transmission’s vice president of project services. “By fortifying the power grid, Georgia’s utilities are protecting all Georgians from increased outages and a greater risk of blackouts.”

Twenty meetings with the public and key stakeholders were held prior to final route selection. Irby Construction handled the construction, which began in early 2008 and added nearly $1 million to the local economy. Georgia Transmission will pay the counties through which the line passes more than $300,000 in property taxes in 2010.

“We are particularly proud that we delivered this project early and under budget,” said Jeannine Rispin Haynes, Georgia Transmission’s senior public relations representative. “The local communities’ input and cooperation was crucial to completing the project on time so EMCs can continue to provide affordable, reliable power to their members.”

The transmission line totals 38.7 miles, stretching through portions of Glascock (12.9 mi.), McDuffie (11.6 mi.), Warren (3.6 mi.) and Washington (10.6 mi.) counties. More than 366 miles of wires span across 158 latticed steel structures that average 140 feet in height. The transmission line right-of-way is 150 feet wide, encompassing 704 acres of land at a cost of more than $4 million.

The project is the first to use a new Delta Cat design that has a narrower footprint and better access for maintenance than the industry’s current horizontal and delta designs. Developed in cooperation with Georgia Power and Southern Company, Georgia Transmission’s design also has improved shields to guard against outages from bird contamination. It will be used on four other 500-kV lines the companies are planning and building in northern and central Georgia