Trailblazing in Transmission
AEP Transmission redefined “cutting edge” technology in 2012 when our team developed a new and compact extra-high voltage 345-kV line design. In response to the need to minimize right-of-way land requirements and increase the functionality of 345-kV lines and corridors, we challenged our employees to develop a new high-capacity 345-kV line design for long-distance applications. Patents are currently pending for the new compact design that, when compared to conventional 345-kV designs, provides more capacity, is less costly for the megawatts delivered, provides greater use of rights-of-way and, with its unique low-profile design, is more streamlined in appearance. The new 345-kV line design is an example of a solutions-oriented culture and collaborative leadership at AEP.
Installation of the Steamtown skid station near Summerfield, Ohio this past November, is one example of how skid stations have enabled AEP to respond to rapidly changing market conditions and customer expectations.
In 2011, AEP Transmission developed a pre-fabricated building design called the Drop-in Control Module (DICM). This new concept, designed by AEP Transmission’s engineering team, delivers a control building with pre-built relay panels that replaces the transmission substation control buildings constructed on site. The new design cuts required on-site construction time in half by pre-fabricating everything ahead of time at the manufacturer. It allows us to respond to customer needs for power more quickly and affordably. In addition, it has resulted in landfill avoidance for the wood that was traditionally needed to package the individual relay panels when they were shipped to the substation. More than 28 tons of wood was diverted from landfills in 2012.
We also developed a new “skid station” for situations where customers need service even more quickly. These temporary stations are self-contained, quick to build and flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of operating voltages to support transmission and distribution customers. By enabling AEP to respond to rapidly changing market conditions and customer expectations, skid stations have provided new and emerging business opportunities for AEP. Unlike the temporary stations used in the past, skid stations can simply be picked up and moved to the next place they are needed.
In 2012, AEP Transmission’s engineering team again set precedent when it took the prefabricated design approach a step further and developed the “station in a box” concept. As natural gas and oil production ramped up in many of our states, so did the need for the quick and reliable substation development to provide power for drilling and processing facilities. The typical substation takes 12 to 18 months to build and place into service. This unique pre-packaged “station in a box” can be built in half that time. It not only accelerates the construction process, it reduces fuel use by moving all the materials to the site at one time rather than in multiple trips.
Another breakthrough in transmission is the deployment of three-dimensional (3-D) design software for substations and other facilities. This cutting-edge design approach is expected to replace traditional dimensional design software currently used in the industry The 3-D model allows users to design structure clearances effectively by allowing them to see all of the perspectives of a substation. This new approach results in engineering and design savings of approximately 10 percent. View a video demo of this new design model.
AEP Transmission is working with CTC Global and Quanta Services to complete the largest and most complex “reconductoring while energized” project in AEP history. The project includes the reconductoring of 240 miles of 345-kV transmission lines in south Texas using advanced, low-loss, low-sag conductor, and a live reconducturing technique. These circuits are critical to the reliability of the Rio Grande Valley and required minimizing outages. The unique live reconductoring technique enables AEP to improve service reliability in the area while maintaining service during the work.
A new central Asset Health Center (AHC) platform to virtually monitor equipment in the field and enable "reliability-centered maintenance" of equipment was developed by our Transmission team. This first-of-a-kind system allows remote evaluations of asset conditions and maintenance needs and early warnings for equipment failures, and it prioritizes replacements. As the physical infrastructure ages, it is imperative to have this system to manage equipment effectively for reliability and customer service.
Reconductoring is the replacement of the conductors of a transmission line currently in service with new conductors.