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Allegheny Energy's $1.2 billion energy project shapes up

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By Rick Stouffer
Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008

Allegheny Energy Inc. said Friday it secured most of the funding for its proposed $1.2 billion high-voltage transmission line, and has selected Fairmont, W.Va., for its new transmission operations headquarters.

Funding totaling $550 million was secured by Allegheny Energy's Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co. subsidiary, which will own and operate the power line, pending regulatory approvals.

The Trans-Allegheny line includes a 500,000-volt line that begins in Washington County and runs south into West Virginia, then east, before ending in Loudoun County, Va., a total of 240 miles. Three, 15-mile 138,000-volt lines are also part of the Pennsylvania portion of the project.

Allegheny Energy's share of the total $1.2 billion project cost is about $850 million, with Dominion Virginia Power paying for the Virginia portion of the project.

Yesterday, Allegheny Energy also said it selected a 9-acre parcel in the Interstate 70 High Technology Park outside Fairmont, W.Va., as the location for its $50 million transmission line operations headquarters.

The facility will house an operations center and will serve as home to Allegheny Energy's transmission planning, engineering, maintenance and construction functions.

"With two major expansion projects under way, we need a new center to meet the complex requirements of our transmission system, and North Central West Virginia is an ideal location," said Allegheny Energy Chairman and CEO Paul J. Evanson, in a statement.

Evanson was referring to the Trans-Allegheny power line and to PATH, the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, a $1.8 billion joint venture between Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio.

PATH will span about 290 miles beginning at American Electric's John Amos coal-fired power plant near St. Albans, W. Va., and run northeast through West Virginia carrying 765,000 volts, the highest-voltage power line in use, before changing to twin 500,000-volt lines for the path through rural central Maryland to a substation to be built near Frederick, Md.

Greensburg-based Allegheny Energy had announced in April it would build a new transmission center near Morgantown and staff it with up to 150 personnel. Fairmont is about 14 miles south of Morgantown.

Agreeing to build the center was a major piece of a settlement pact between Allegheny Energy, the Consumer Advocate Division of the West Virginia Public Service Commission and a group of large West Virginia electricity users known as the West Virginia Energy Users Group.

The pact was needed for the energy company to win approval with conditions earlier this month for the West Virginia portion of the Trans-Allegheny line from the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

The Trans-Allegheny line still must be approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

Allegheny Energy expects to begin construction on the Fairmont facility in 2009, with completion slated for mid-2011.

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