FAQ

High capacity for long distances? Constricted right-of-ways? Aesthetically sensitive areas? BOLD is the key to solving them all.

What is BOLD?

BOLD is a compact transmission line design that combines the advantages of higher capacity, lower energy losses, and a lower-profile structure with less visual impact. BOLD was created to maximize the use of land for transmission line corridors (right-of-way) and avoid complex specialized equipment like series capacitors.

The benefits that BOLD provides can help utilities achieve the objectives of new resource integration and infrastructure renewal with the highest efficiency and least environmental and community impact. The patented design, developed by American Electric Power, provides an efficient and robust transmission solution at common domestic and international voltage classes representing the best available technology in overhead line design.


Are compact transmission line designs a new concept?

Not necessarily. Compact lines designs have been studied since the 1970s, but built in very rare circumstances at voltages 230-kV and below where right-of-way or some other constraint existed.

An EPRI survey performed in October 2014 found only six responding utilities that had compact lines on their system. However, the survey did indicate a growing need for compact designs.


Why aren’t more utilities using compact transmission lines?

Most utilities do not have a standard for compact transmission lines or sufficient experience to overcome the hesitation of adopting a new design. Historically, as the current grid was expanding, it was relatively easy for a utility to obtain the necessary rights to build transmission lines.

However, in today’s age, utilities are faced with significant challenges even when rebuilding lines in existing corridors. Compact transmission lines like BOLD can be a useful solution that balances system needs with public and environmental concerns.


How is BOLD different?

BOLD is unique in that it was designed for capacity and performance first, but comes along with the aesthetic and environmental advantages sought by others who have pursued compact line designs. The synergy BOLD provides makes it a solution that can be applied in a variety of ways.

Additionally, the extensive testing, vendor collaboration, and experience gained on real world BOLD projects provide a new level of insight into the design and application of compact transmission lines.


What voltage classes has BOLD been designed for?

BOLD is currently designed and tested for 230-kV and 345-kV applications. Similar performance can be expected for any voltages in the 200- to 400-kV range. Designs for both higher and lower voltage levels are contemplated based on market demands.


Is BOLD a single-circuit or double-circuit design?

The BOLD design can be built as a single- or double-circuit tower. The single-circuit version is simply half of the crossarm, though several tower variations are possible.


What are the benefits of a BOLD design?

  • Up to-60% increase in Surge Impedance Loading (SIL) per circuit
  • Eliminated need for series compensation in long-distance bulk-power transfer applications
  • Increased thermal capacity
  • Increased power delivery in the same right-of-way
  • Reduced energy losses from conductor heating
  • Moderation of electromagnetic field strength
  • Aesthetic appeal that is preferred and more acceptable to general public
  • Reduced structure height


How does BOLD work?

Lower surge impedance (higher surge impedance loading, or SIL) is achieved by compacting the phases while simultaneously increasing the conductor bundle diameter and number of sub-conductors. For example, 60% more SIL increment is obtained through a 40% surge-impedance reduction, which is directly related to reactance reduction through the compact delta design between three phases.

BOLD design acts like a series compensated line but without extra equipment to maintain. Additionally, increasing the number of sub-conductors naturally increases the overall thermal capability (ampacity) of the line. The compaction of the phases is also what allows BOLD to be constructed on shorter, streamlined structures.


Why use BOLD instead of my own design?

While each project is different, most new transmission facilities are not much different than those built decades ago. Significant benefits can be achieved by increasing line efficiency, reducing line impedance, lowering energy losses and maximizing the use of new and existing rights-of-way.

Building transmission today also demands an earnest appreciation for environmental and public impacts. BOLD was developed with these considerations in mind, providing a new and innovative solution for utilities to consider when planning the grid of the future.

Additionally, the industry stands to benefit from utilizing a tested, proven compact line design.


What testing has been completed for BOLD?

Extensive electrical and mechanical testing has been performed to ensure the design works in the field as it was designed.

EPRI Lab — Lenox, Massachusetts

  • Single-phase corona cage testing
  • Three-phase power frequency testing (wet and dry corona & audible noise)
  • Lightning performance
  • Switching performance

Hubbell Power Systems — Wadsworth, Ohio

  • Single-phase insulator and hardware-assembly power-frequency testing

Burndy — Manchester, New Hampshire; Kinetics — Toronto, Ontario

  • Spacer-damper mechanical testing

Valmont – Valley, Nebraska

  • Full-scale structure testing


What would be typical applications for BOLD?

Because BOLD has both performance and aesthetic advantages, the potential applications vary widely. The performance aspects of BOLD make it a very attractive option for delivering large amounts of power over long distances — a challenge common for wind development.

In populated centers or areas with constricted right-of-way, BOLD is a great option for increasing the voltage and/or capacity of a line without installing bigger structures.


Are the modeling parameters of typical BOLD lines different than conventional lines?

Compared with typical lines, the impedance (R and X) is lower while the shunt charging (B) is higher. Exact parameters can be shared under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).


How is BOLD considered in the planning process?

It is important that transmission owners, planners and regulators understand what BOLD is and why it is different. BOLD lines can be modeled in planning analyses the same as conventional lines (with the modified parameters), and considered as a solution either as a new build or rebuild of existing lines.

The performance aspects of BOLD are particularly evident in PV studies, demonstrating that more power can be transferred while maintaining stable voltages. The benefits of a high capacity and low impedance of BOLD lines can also be seen in economic/market-efficiency analyses.

Of course, as lines are planned, the less tangible aspects of siting ease, constructability, and public impact should also be considered.


Are there benefits in the utilization of BOLD for interconnection of wind generation facilities?

Wind resources are generally located far away from the areas demanding power, thus requiring long transmission lines for transport. Historically, series compensation has been utilized to increase transfer capability on these lines for performance needs.

Series capacitors can create harmonic interference known as Sub-Synchronous Resonance (SSR), which can interfere with and even damage turbine generation facilities. Series capacitors are also complex and costly.

BOLD’s compact line design, not requiring series compensation, is able to perform equal to or better than a traditional line with series compensation and avoid this potential complication.


What vendors and contractors can design the components and build BOLD lines?

The following vendors were involved in developing the first application of BOLD:

  • Steel pole structures — Valmont Inc.
  • Insulator hardware assemblies — Hubbell Power System, Inc.
  • Construction — PAR Electrical Contractors, Inc.
  • Other competent and reputable vendors and contractors should be able to design BOLD components and construct/maintain the line. A training program is available to those who will design, build, or own/operate BOLD lines.


What design options are available?

Knowing each project is unique, the BOLD design can be customized depending on the application. The first BOLD line will operate at 345-kV with a 3-ACSR Cardinal conductor bundle on tubular steel poles and a smoothly curved crossarm.

The 230-kV version is essentially a scaled version of the same tower. 2-, 3-, and 4-bundle conductor arrangements can be utilized dependent on project needs/requirements. A BOLD lattice family of structures has also been developed and will be implemented in BOLD’s second application (scheduled to break ground spring of 2016).

More significant deviation from the existing phase configurations might require additional electrical testing to prove the design. The BOLD product family will continue to expand over time with consideration given to unique applications, siting obstacles, cost, etc.


Can I use different conductors with BOLD?

By keeping the same phase configurations (phase spacing, bundle size and diameter, conductor size), other conductor types can be used for different purposes for BOLD line design. Sag-tension of ACSS, ACCC, or ACCR conductor types can be designed and matched to ACSR to maintain the same overall structure height.


Can I use different insulators with BOLD?

Yes. While the first BOLD projects utilize polymer insulators, other materials may be used.


Are more structures needed due to the lower height?

In some cases yes, but this will be a function of each project’s unique geography. The height reduction is a benefit due to the compaction between phases. The bottom phase conductor attachment height and phase-to-ground clearance is the same as the lowest phase on a conventional design.


How is maintenance performed on a BOLD line?

The BOLD design includes maintenance vangs and working holes on the structure, working holes on the yoke plates, and select hardware connections that are appropriate for foreseen maintenance activities. A climbing hot box was also provided. The first application of BOLD was not designed for live line maintenance.

Since work practices vary widely between utilities, it is up to the licensee to determine whether or not they can perform live line maintenance.

A test structure has been installed at AEP’s Transmission Training Center and is available for maintenance training.


What about emergency storm repairs?

AEP has kept a limited supply of spare structures available. Conventional structures can also be temporarily utilized on up to 5% of the total line length without altering system performance. One of the advantages of adopting BOLD as an industry-wide design will be an increase in sparing capability.


How are magnetic fields affected by the design?

BOLD uses a compact delta phase super bundle (C1-C2-C3/C1-C2-C3, top-to-bottom) arrangement. Up to a 50% reduction in magnetic field at ground level is achieved using this arrangement for the same power flow.


Does the BOLD line allow for narrower right-of-way (ROW)?

BOLD can be built in narrower right-of-ways, making it an excellent choice for rebuilding existing corridors. Right-of-way width is a function of span length (i.e., number of structures) and environmental considerations (e.g., audible noise, EMF).

Audible noise for BOLD is comparable or lower than a conventional design, and magnetic field strength is lower so regulations can be met with a narrower width. BOLD can also be designed with the two circuits over top of one another to fit a double-circuit tower in a right-of-way as narrow as 50 feet while still meeting regulations.


What about shield wires and lightning performance?

There are two shield wires attachment locations on the top of the curved beams. These two shield wires are to provide zero degree shielding angle to the outermost phases. Shield wires can be either OPGW or regular static wire.

Testing demonstrated that lightning performance will be as good as or better than conventional designs.


Where is BOLD being used today?

AEP is using BOLD for projects today. See the Projects tab for more information.


How can the BOLD technology be used on my company’s future projects?

The BOLD technology is available through licensing, partnerships, or other arrangements. Contact us for more detailed information.


Has BOLD been considered for application in foreign countries?

Yes. BOLD currently holds 14 issued and pending patents worldwide and can work with utilities outside the U.S.


Has any insight into public acceptance been obtained on the BOLD design?

A late 2015 survey polling the general public across the United States and throughout Europe found strong favorability of BOLD vs. conventional designs in all areas.

The public valued the reduced height and aesthetic appeal of BOLD and strongly favored their local utility in implementing new technologies such as BOLD in future projects.