Bluefield, W.Va., April 19, 2005 – The heavy lifting phase of building the nation’s largest transmission line gets underway this week when Appalachian Power begins flying transmission towers from staging yards to tower sites in southern West Virginia utilizing a heavy-lift helicopter.

Appalachian Power’s $289 million, 90-mile Wyoming-Jacksons Ferry 765 kV project connects power stations in Wyoming County, W.Va., and Wythe County, Va. Last April crews started assembling pieces of towers in staging yards in West Virginia near Oceana, Welch and Regal Rock.

In total 333 towers will be erected once the project is complete. Of those, 110 will be self-supporting, four-legged and constructed from the ground up, while 223 will be “V” shaped towers supported with guy wires. The average tower height is 132 feet.

A special Boeing 234 Chinook helicopter, operated by Columbia Helicopters, Inc., in Portland, Ore., is scheduled to arrive in the area Wednesday, April 20. Beginning Thursday, it will shuttle nearly 70 of the guyed-V structures to tower sites in West Virginia. The activity should conclude within a week. Typically guyed-V towers are assembled in three pieces – two masts and a bridge. This specialized helicopter can lift up to 24,000 pounds.   On average Appalachian’s guyed-V towers weigh 50,000 pounds.

In addition to delivering tower pieces to locations over the 33-mile West Virginia portion of the two-state project, the helicopter will deliver a complete tower to a site in Bland County, Va., in the Jefferson National Forest in an area designated as roadless.
Once the pieces are put on the ground at tower sites, cranes lift the tower legs and bridge into place while ground crews bolt the pieces together and install guy wires to support the structure.

Currently a smaller project helicopter is delivering 7,000-pound bundles of unassembled steel to tower sites. This effort will continue on the Virginia end of the project. Other activities ongoing in the project area include access road construction, tower foundation installation, installation of grouted anchors for guy wires, and ground-up tower construction.

In early May hardware will be attached to erected towers so wire pulling can start by the end of the month. To help reduce noise from the project, the Wyoming-Jacksons Ferry project uses a six-bundle conductor configuration, the first in the industry. Appalachian built a mile of test conductor on an existing 765 kV line in Floyd, Va., in 1995 and learned that the configuration cut the audible noise from the transmission line approximately in half.

Appalachian Power proposed construction of a new 765 kV line in 1989 to address a growing customer demand in its West Virginia and Virginia service territory. Peak customer demands in the area have more than doubled since the last major transmission line to serve the area was put in service in 1973. Appalachian predicts that by mid-2006 when the Wyoming-Jacksons Ferry line is energized, peak demand will be nearly triple the 1973 load.

Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.   It is a unit of American Electric Power, the nation’s largest electricity generator.  AEP owns more than 36,000 megawatts of generating capacity and is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states.
More information about Appalachian Power’s 765 kV project can be found on-line at www.apcocustomer.com.

Todd Burns
Corporate Communications Manager
(540) 985-2912, cell 540-798-2686
pager 1-888-956-2447

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