Construction is expected to begin next year on a 765-kv transmission line from West Virginia to Virginia first proposed in 1990 by American Electric Power Co., Columbus, Ohio. On Dec. 31, the U.S. Forest Service issued its final environmental impact statement and record of decision on the 11 miles of public lands crossed by the 90-mile Wyoming-Jacksons Ferry line. That action clears the way for issuance of a permit by the Forest Service, says Todd Burns, AEP spokesman.

State regulators in Virginia and West Virginia approved the project in May 2001 and March 2002, respectively. Construction can begin when the Forest Service issues the permit and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues a letter saying that the project complies with Corps specifications, says Burns.

Engineering of the $287-million line is under way in-house and surveying is in progress in the 1,000-ft-wide, state-approved route, which runs from Oceana, W. Va., to Wythe County, Va. Right-of-way acquisition will begin early this year on the the 200-ft-wide corridor. The easement will be cleared by the end of the year, allowing construction to begin next year, aiming for completion by mid-2006, says Burns.

The line will consist of six-bundle conductor strung on guyed-V steel towers, whose steel will be darkened by etching to reduce the line's visual impact. Average tower height will be 132 ft, with the tallest about 180 ft. The conductor bundling "will reduce noise from corona by about half," says Burns.

AEP last reinforced the 765-kv transmission system that delivers electricity to southern West Virginia, Virginia and eastern Kentucky in 1973. Since then, the area's peak demand has increased by more than 135%. The line originally was proposed to run from the Wyoming substation in West Virginia to the Cloverdale station near Roanoke, Va. The route was cut back in 2000 to accommodate objections from affected communities (ENR 5/22/00 p. 17).