Planning, coordination, communication, building relationships and construction work. All of those important tasks are involved when it comes to rebuilding or constructing a new transmission line. Throughout Indiana and Michigan, we have been heavily engaged in these activities as we continue to focus on modernizing the electric transmission grid.
So, what is a transmission line? Transmission lines are high-voltage and extra-high voltage lines that carry electricity from power plants to substations, which reduce the voltage for delivery to customers on distribution lines.
Transmission line and substation projects totaling more than $3.1 billion have been completed since 2012 to benefit our customers. Across our service area, there are 51 transmission projects ongoing – 41 in Indiana and 10 in Michigan. Many of these projects involve replacing power lines, replacing wooden poles with steel poles, and upgrading or building new substations.
A key driver for these transmission upgrades relates to the age of our transmission assets. Although a number of factors like severe weather can cause outages, so can aging power lines and substations. Much of our transmission infrastructure dates back multiple decades – in some cases, 40 years or more. No matter how well we maintain our equipment, parts do eventually wear out and require replacement.
Although age alone does not determine when equipment requires replacement – we look at performance, condition and risk of failure – the age of our system does tell a story that, sooner or later, aging infrastructure needs to be upgraded to ensure a reliable and resilient power grid for customers.
"Studies have shown there’s a connection between equipment age and power outages – with a sharp increase in outages occurring when a power line reaches 60 years old,” said Bart Taberner, Transmission Planning manager for I&M. “The risk of equipment failure at 75 years of age is predicted to be around 8 times greater than the risk of failure at age 40. This is why it’s critical to make these improvements for our communities and customers to enhance reliability and safety.”
AEP transmission projects yield other benefits, too. Transmission investment is becoming increasingly important in supporting the integration of low-cost renewable energy to the grid, such as wind and solar power. But, that’s not all.
“These projects also provide significant economic activity for our communities where we live and work,” said Katie Davis, vice president of External Affairs and Customer Experience for I&M. “The projects are essential because they support 1,900 jobs in Indiana and 900 jobs in Michigan each year with ongoing transmission project construction.”
Transmission investment also stimulated an estimated $1.5 billion in economic activities across Indiana and Michigan from 2020-2022, along with contributing about $148 million in total taxes paid to state and local governments from 2020-2022.
Company representatives are in contact with landowners, community officials and vital stakeholders from the start of projects. You can view all projects in Indiana and Michigan on AEP’s transmission project website.