The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a NASEO Affiliate Member, recently awarded its most prestigious honor, the Edison Award to AEP’s Energized Reconductor Project in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the project used CTC Global’s, a NASEO Affiliate Member, Aluminum Conductor Composite Core (ACCC) line technology. In recognizing this project EEI President Tom Kuhn said, "The electric power industry is making significant investments in new technologies to improve the reliability and resiliency of the energy grid. AEP’s Lower Rio Grande Valley project accomplished an incredible technical feat by replacing a record length of transmission lines while the lines remained energized. Traditional construction methods would have required taking those lines out of service, but AEP developed an innovative technical solution that permitted the company to successfully upgrade the system while maintaining service and reliability.”
This project was the longest line reconductoring project in the world ever attempted while the line remained energized, thus delivering electricity while the transmission lines were being replaced by the CTC Global ACCC. CTC Global ACCC uses a non-conductive carbon and gas fiber core which is much stronger and lighter than the line replaced during the project. The ACCC has a lower electric resistance thus reducing line losses during transmission of electricity. Its lighter weight is a particular importance for this project located in a part of the country which experience significantly high temperatures during the summer leading to transmission line sag which results in outages if contact is made with an object.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley is an area not only high summer temperatures both a fast growing part of Texas, consequently electricity demand has been growing creating stress on the electric infrastructure. Ironically it was a low winter temperature event which caused to need for renewing and expanding the ability of the transmission lines serving the Lower Rio Grande Valley. A cold snap caused customers to purchase portable electric heaters which when plugged into the local distribution grid caused power overloads leading to rolling blackouts. AEP decided that more power needed to delivered to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in order to meet this type of an event but also for the anticipated load growth in the area in the coming years. An important part of the solution was replacement of the lines with CTC Global’s ACCC creating the ability to send more electricity through the existing lines thus avoiding the delays involved in a new transmission line project.
Transmission line efficiency accomplished by technologies like CTC Global’s ACCC is an important but not publicly wide known aspect of modern electric service. ACCC not only is stronger and lighter due to its modern components which reduces line sag thus increasing reliability, it increases the capacity of the line to transmit electricity. A traditional problem with long distance transmission lines are line losses as the electricity travels over the line. Technology like CTC Global’s ACCC which reduces line losses by 25 to 40% thus increasing the capacity of existing lines so we avoid the arduous process entailed with permitting and constructing a new transmission line. This not only assists in bringing power from disparate sources such as renewables but helps respond to areas of high load growth.