Relief on the way for southern Ohio co-op members

Washington Electric Cooperative, Buckeye Power and AEP Ohio announced this morning a major project is being launched to improve the reliability of electric service in Washington, Noble and Monroe counties.

“This is great news for our members,” said Ken Schilling, general manager and CEO of Washington Electric Cooperative. “The reliability of the transmission service in some of these areas has been a major concern.

“Along with staff at Buckeye Power, we’ve been talking with AEP for a while now looking for a solution and are excited about this project.”

The Marietta Area Transmission Improvement Project will be an approximate $110 million investment by AEP Ohio Transmission Company in southeastern Ohio. The project includes replacing and upgrading aging electrical equipment in Marietta and parts of Washington, Monroe and Noble counties. Work on the project is expected to begin this fall and continue through 2022.

Schilling estimates Washington Electric Cooperative will be investing $10 to $15 million as it upgrades at least five of its substations from 23-kilovolt (kV) to 69-kV. He added that it may be necessary to move the location of some of the substations.

“Coordination with AEP is going to be very critical on this,” Schilling said. He noted that the project will affect about 70 percent of the co-op’s service territory.
AEP plans to rebuild the existing 23-kV transmission lines and upgrade them to 69-kV, along with building a new 138-kV system to bring an additional power supply to the area.

“This investment demonstrates the long-term commitment of AEP Ohio in southeastern Ohio,” said Pablo Vegas, AEP Ohio President and Chief Operating Officer.

AEP acquired the southern Ohio service territory from Monongahela Power in 2005 and the system still includes original equipment from the 1920s and 1930s, which will be replaced.

The old Monongahela Power facilities rank at the bottom of the list in terms of reliability for Ohio co-op substations and delivery points.

“This is exciting news for our members, our employees and our board,” Schilling said.

Construction will begin following the completion of the engineering and right-of-way acquisition.

Schilling pointed out that not only does southern Ohio have some of the most difficult terrain in the state to navigate a power line through, part of that area includes Wayne National Forest which could provide additional challenges.