Dominion Virginia Power is proposing to have new transmission lines in service by November 2014, as plans for retirement of local generation facilities in Virginia have accelerated the need for new transmission lines.
In September, the Dominion Resources (NYSE:D) subsidiary announced that due to upcoming changes in federal environmental regulations, the coal-fired Chesapeake Energy Center in Chesapeake, Va., would likely close by 2016; and one coal-fired unit at the Yorktown Power Station in Yorktown, Va., would likely close by 2015, while a second coal-fired unit would likely be converted to natural gas.
“Electrical demand in the Hampton Roads area is projected to increase by more than 20% by summer 2020,” the company said in describing the 500-kV Chickahominy-Skiffes Creek line and the 230-kV Skiffes Creek-Whealton line. “This growth will place a strain on the electrical grid, and create the potential for overloads and violations of North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reliability standards.”
According to the company, the 500-kV line will be 38 miles long. During the 1970s and 1980s, Dominion acquired a new right-of-way in Charles City and James City counties.
The company also said it has conducted a preliminary feasibility study and assembled a project team to develop plans to use this right-of-way corridor to build the new line to connect to an existing transmission corridor just north of the Lightfoot substation.
The total distance of uncleared right-of-way is about 25 miles, the company said, adding that initial studies show no need to expand the width of the existing uncleared easements to accommodate this proposed line.
The total distance of existing, cleared right-of-way is about 13 miles, and initial studies indicate no need to expand the width of the existing right-of-way corridor to accommodate the line.
As part of the application to be filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in February 2012, Dominion will propose to build and operate a new switching station on land already acquired in southern James City County.
From the proposed Skiffes Creek switching station south to the existing Whealton substation, Dominion plans to reconfigure the existing transmission lines and towers to accommodate the new 230-kV, 18-mile line.
Final engineering has not been completed and several structure types are being considered, the company added. Initial studies show no need to expand the width of the existing right-of-way corridor to accommodate this proposed line.
Among project benefits, Dominion said the new lines will supply needed capacity by 2014 to serve the local area and critical military facilities; support local growth and economic development in central and eastern Virginia; and provide reliability improvements for fewer service interruptions and shorter durations when an outage does occur.
Pre-construction activities and surveys would begin next fall and, pending SCC approval, construction would begin in late 2012 or early 2013.
While it is too early in the process to tell exactly what the cost will be, Dominion’s initial estimates range between $150m to $250m. Costs associated with the lines will be allocated to PJM Interconnection customers to varying degrees based on the final PJM-approved design of the projects, the company added.
Public open houses will be held next year on Jan. 9, 10 and 11, according to the company.