A major electrical transmission line that is slated to go through the greater Calhoun region, is one of two giant projects receiving endorsement from the company that operates the power grids.

The $2.7 billion high voltage lines are designed to relieve the strain on existing lines, preventing power grid breakdown.

The projects could be completed by 2012, bringing cheaper, surplus electricity from Appalachia and the Midwest to big East Coast cities.

One of the power lines would run approximately 300 miles from American Electric Power Company's John Amos coal-fired power plant near St. Albans to a substation to be built near Damascus, Maryland.

It would be built by Columbus Ohio-based AEP and Allegheny Energy Inc. of Greensburg Pennsylvania.

That line, if built straight-line from the two destinations could come through Calhoun County.

The second giant line would run from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

Last Friday's votes by the board of PJM Interconnection means the companies behind the high-voltage transmission lines are likely to launch environmental and siting studies as a prelude to filing plans with state regulators.

Those studies could take a year or more, and will help the companies determine exact routes.

Opponents of the giant transmission project say such lines are being peddled by power companies that get lucrative federal incentives to build them.

They want to sell more electricity from their underused coal-fired power plants in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

News reports say PJM is considering other proposals, including some that would extend from the lines already endorsed.

PJM officials said the lines are based solely on the need to head off blackouts and other serious transmission problems in the future.

"We do not profit at all based on whether these lines are built or not built," said Michael Kormos, PJM's senior vice president.

The transmission network serves more than 50 million people in 13 eastern states and the District of Columbia.

A 2005 law now allows the federal government to override state regulators for projects that are deemed to be critical to the nation's electric transmission needs.

The line approved by PJM last year has met steep resistance, with residents calling for the law's repeal.

Will Giant Electric Transmission Line Come Through Calhoun?