Summary:

The formerly dry subject of transmission infrastructure is becoming a hot topic as proposals for sprawling wind and solar farms require new lines to be built out in the middle of nowhere. While there’s been a boom in renewable energy projects, the infrastructure to bring new […]

The formerly dry subject of transmission infrastructure is becoming a hot topic as proposals for sprawling wind and solar farms require new lines to be built out in the middle of nowhere. While there’s been a boom in renewable energy projects, the infrastructure to bring new power from remote locations to population centers has lagged. But a new joint venture announced today between Duke Energy and American Electric Power (AEP), could help support 3,000 megawatts of planned wind power development in Indiana.

The proposed project, called Pioneer Transmission, would run 240 miles of extra-high-voltage 765-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines from Duke Energy’s Greentown Station (near Kokomo, Ind.) to AEP’s Rockport Station (east of Evansville, Ind.).

The project, which won’t be completed before 2014, is estimated to cost about $1 billion. The utilities hope to pass the cost of this sizable infrastructure project along to their customers across over a dozen states, which will require regulatory approval from the local overseeing body, the Midwestern Independent System Operator and PJM Interconnection. The joint venture says it will also seek approval from the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission to operate as a transmission utility in Indiana. Electricity customers generally back the idea of green power, but depending on how much rates will rise, this could cause some customer alarm.

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