At the opposite end of a light switch is a generating plant producing the energy all of us depend on daily. Oglethorpe Power and other generators provide Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) with nuclear, natural gas, coal, solar and hydropower.
Moving power securely from the generating source to EMCs is our top priority. Through our high-voltage power lines, we transmit electricity across Georgia’s electric grid, connecting millions to reliable, affordable energy.
We also operate the substations responsible for increasing and decreasing the voltages appropriately— a necessary step before EMCs distribute electric power to individual homes and businesses.
Finally, local EMCs deliver energy to homes and businesses over separate networks of lower-voltage distribution lines. This journey from plant to plug happens at almost 186,000 miles per second.
To minimize outages and maintain the flow of reliable power, we study grid activity during peak hours and use the data to forecast future usage. With this info, we can determine when we need to build or upgrade lines and substations to meet increasing demand.
Because EMCs work directly with consumers, they can anticipate the changing energy needs of their local communities. As upgrades become necessary, our engineers work with EMCs to determine the best strategies for serving current and new customers.
While Load-Serving Planning is localized, Bulk Planning is a statewide strategy. With a focus on the highest voltage lines, known as bulk transmission, Georgia Transmission collaborates with other electric utilities to move electricity from generators to consumers.
Integrated Transmission System
Together with Georgia Power, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) and Dalton Utilities, we plan and operate the electric transmission system through the Integrated Transmission System (ITS), ensuring transmission remains efficient and reliable.
We monitor more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines and 700 substations for any potential problems. Our maintenance process includes monthly substation visits, an annual flyover of every line and an inspection of poles and towers every three years.
Upgrades and Repairs
Through our inspections, we replace dated or faulty equipment and address any obstructions. We also monitor usage and upgrade transformers, lines or substations in response to new or anticipated power needs.
Federal Reliability Standards
After a 2003 blackout in the northeastern United States affecting millions, the federal government introduced regulations to reduce outages and speed up restorations. That’s why we have a dedicated team to ensure compliance with federal regulations.
Identifying a Line or Station
To speed up our service call response time, we have marked all of our facilities. This signage is visible either on the power line poles or on substation fences. If there is a problem, we can quickly determine who owns the facility, its location and how to best respond.
What Are They?
Rights of way are obstruction-free paths under or around a power line allowing safe operation and quick access. They are often private property, so utilities negotiate land rights with the landowners.
Most shrubs, vegetables and grasses can grow on rights of way. The mature height maximum is 15 feet for vegetation. In addition, landowners must leave a 25-foot radius around all structures.
Inspection and Cutting
During an inspection, we note vegetation encroaching on our infrastructure. To avoid power interruptions and other dangerous incidents, our teams work with landowners to remove problematic vegetation.
Mowing and Herbicides
By mowing the paths and using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved herbicides, we can manage vegetation while also reducing soil compaction, erosion and sedimentation.
Who Runs the Program?
WINGS is the work of Georgia Transmission, Georgia Power, MEAG Power, Atlanta Gas Light and the Two Rivers Research Conservation and Development Council with support from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Forestry.
Applications are available at the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices. Applications are accepted from May 15 to July 15.
Generally, we can negotiate easements for power lines and purchase property for substations. Treating all parties with respect and compensating them fairly is a priority.
From the first time we survey property to the final signature, we want all parties to benefit from the process. We pride ourselves on finding mutually beneficial solutions.
Rights of Way Widths
The width of a right of way varies from 25 feet to 150 feet and depends on many factors including the voltage the line will carry, existing structures and topography.
Our land agents work with individual landowners. We also meet with homeowners associations, business forums and other local stakeholder groups.
Community Leader Briefings
We want to inform community leaders of our process. That’s why we invite elected officials and other leaders to meet us, learn about the project and offer input.
We host public open house meetings when planning new projects. They give stakeholders an opportunity to learn more, ask questions and share insight.