Virginia authorizes Dominion Virginia Power to build transmission project

The Virginia State Corporation Commission authorized Dominion Virginia Power to build and operate a rebuild transmission project in Prince William County, Va.

Dominion filed in June 2017 with the commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to build and operate electrical transmission facilities.

The company proposes to rebuild, entirely within an existing right of way and company owned property, about 8.5 miles of existing 115-kV transmission lines – Possum Point-Smoketown Line #18 and Possum Point-Smoketown Line #145 – located between the existing 115-kV switchyard at the company’s Possum Point power station site and the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative Smoketown Delivery Point, entirely within Prince William County.

The commission added that the company proposes to use 230-kV design on all but the first 0.7-mile segment originating from the 115-kV switchyard at the Possum Point station site, which would be rebuilt to 115-kV design.

While the company proposes to build the lines to be capable of operating at 230 kV, the company states that operation of the lines would continue at 115 kV until such time as needed to serve the Northern Virginia Load Area.

The state Department of Environmental Quality in August 2017 filed its recommendations about the project with the commission, including that the company should coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Northern big-eared bat.

Commission staff, in a September 2017 report filed with the commission, said that it does not oppose the company’s proposal to design the rebuild project for 230 kV, but to initially operate it at 115 kV.

The commission also said that a hearing examiner, in a report entered on Jan. 8, recommended that the commission issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity to the company to build and operate the rebuild project.

The commission said that it finds that the rebuild project is necessary so that the company can replace aging transmission line infrastructure.

Furthermore, the commission said that it finds that use of the existing route will minimize adverse impacts on scenic assets and historic districts in the state. After consideration of the record and the particular circumstances of the case, the commission said that it will not require chemical dulling of the structure or conductor finish for the project.

In addition, the commission said that it finds that there are no adverse environmental impacts that would prevent the construction or operation of the rebuild project.

Noting that the DEQ report supports a finding that the company’s proposed route reasonably minimizes adverse environmental impacts, provided that the company complies with the report’s recommendations, the SCC said that it finds that as a condition of its approval, Dominion must comply with all of the DEQ recommendations, with certain exceptions.

The commission said that it adopts the hearing examiner’s recommendation that the company is to consult with the Department of Conservation and Recreation for updates to the Biotics Data System only if the scope of the project involves material changes, or 12 months from the date of the final order pass before the project begins construction.

Among other things, the commission said that the rebuild project must be built and in service by Dec. 31, 2019, but the company is granted leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.

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Corina Rivera-Linares, chief analyst for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 10 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at .

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