The Appalachian Power Company is an operating company of the American Electric Power Company, the largest electricity producing private electric system in the United States since 1953. The Appalachian Power Company held almost exclusive development rights along the New River since its 1911 charter. From then until the 1940s, it built a few small dams, a very large hydroelectric dam with the highest generating capacity of its time, and the largest steam plant in Virginia on the New River. Besides a few navigation issues, conflicting developments, and brief clashes with the federal government, the Appalachian Power Company''s developments along the New River went largely unchallenged until the late-1960s. The Blue Ridge Project was the utility''s next large hydroelectric project on the New River. It was slated to impound the waters of the upper New River in Grayson County, Virginia, with two reservoirs extending into the river''s headwaters in the counties of Ashe and Alleghany in northwestern North Carolina.