The nation’s growing appetite for electricity, and for electricity generated by alternative-energy sources, demands a comparable expansion in the country’s transmission infrastructure, if all of that new power is to be delivered.

The utilities serving the states of Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana have recognized that need for better transmission and jumped into action. In two separate announcements, they unveiled ambitious efforts to meet the region’s growing transmission needs.

On June 2, Pioneer Transmission LLC, a joint venture between American Electric Power (AEP) and Duke Energy, announced plans to develop, with the Tennessee Valley Authority, a 55-mile, extra-high-voltage transmission project in Indiana and Kentucky. Through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the parties intend to build a 765-kilovolt (kV) transmission line connecting AEP’s Rockport Station near Evansville, Ind., with TVA’s Paradise Station in Drakesboro, Ky. The $275 million project would also include the construction of a new 765-kV substation at Paradise. The project complements the 240-mile Greentown-Rockport transmission line that AEP and Duke proposed in August 2008, when they formed Pioneer Transmission.

It looks to be the first of many. Also on June 2, AEP announced that it had signed an MOU with TVA to pursue extra-high-voltage transmission projects designed to strengthen the transmission system in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.

According to Susan Tomasky, president of AEP Transmission, the transmission upgrades are long overdue.

“It is time to build additional transmission in these states to maintain a strong regional grid,” Tomasky said in her statement. She added that the region “has not seen significant transmission investment for nearly three decades.”