With debate on cost allocation for building new transmission lines still heated in Washington DC and FERC 1000 still pending, Duke American Transmission Company (DATC) made its own decision.

On Monday, the company–a joint venture between Duke Energy and American Transmission Company–announced it would be building $4 billion worth of new transmission lines in seven distinct projects across Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The projects, each spanning anywhere from 65 to 696 miles, would be a combination of both 345-kilovolt lines and 500-kilovolt high-voltage direct-current lines.

“We’ve taken a methodical approach to address specific regional transmission needs by building upon work already done and developing innovative solutions in the areas where they are most needed,” said Duke Energy Commercial Business SVP Phillip Grigsby in a statement.

With calls for transmission infrastructure modernization heightening across the country, including a conference in Washington DC this week dedicated to the topic–GridWeek–DATC’s announcement reflects the growing consensus among utilities, power companies and regulators that the aging American infrastructure will need extensive refurbishment in the coming decades.

“The DATC projects relieve congestion on the grid, provide operational flexibility to enhance system reliability, and deliver economic and market benefits,” said American Transmission Co. VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development John Flynn in a statement.

Though many argue that new transmission lines are a necessity, some utilities have argued that pricing mechanisms are unfair and will require utilities to pay for new overly-costly projects like transmission lines for wind farms distant from existing lines. Read more: Energy Stakeholders Ask Senate To Oppose Transmission Bill.

But with the massive SDG&E power outage in the American southwest last week, affecting southern California, Arizona and northern Mexico, it will not be surprising if utilities across the country steadily follow DATC’s lead.

Editor’s Note: Photo (top) was originally posted by Eva Cristescu on Flickr.