The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) on May 16 granted Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power approval to rebuild, entirely within existing rights-of-way, the company’s 500-kV Dooms-Lexington Line #555.
The SCC said the line and associated substation work must be built and in service by June 1, 2016, provided, however, the company is granted leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.
As reported, the company plans to invest $44m in 2014 and 2015, each, in the project, which is estimated to cost $120m.
A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment on May 20.
According to the SCC, the line runs about 39.1 miles from the existing Dooms substation in Augusta County, Va., to the Lexington substation in Rockbridge County, Va. The company further proposed to build and install associated facilities for the rebuilt 500-kV line at the substations.
The line was completed in 1966 as part of the first 500-kV transmission system built in North America, the SCC added, noting that the company proposes to remove the line’s existing weathering steel lattice towers and replace them with galvanized steel lattice towers. The existing bundled conductors would be replaced with triple bundled conductors.
According to Dominion Virginia Power, rebuilding the line as proposed would increase the transfer capability of its portion of the line from 2,913 MVA to 4,330 MVA. At both substations, the company proposes to replace the existing 500-kV breakers that terminate the line with higher capacity breakers and install associated equipment all within the existing substation fences in order to accommodate the terminations of the rebuilt line.
The SCC also said that according to the company, those changes are necessary because power flow studies that it conducted with PJM Interconnection project that by June 1, 2016, the line will violate mandatory NERC reliability standards and that the failure to address those projected NERC violations could lead to service interruptions and could potentially damage the company’s electrical facilities in the area.
In February, the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) filed a report offering general recommendations for the SCC’s consideration, including that the company should conduct an on-site delineation of all wetlands and stream crossings within the project area with verification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, using accepted methods and procedures, and follow the DEQ’s recommendations to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands and streams.
The company should also coordinate with the Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Natural Heritage regarding its recommendations to protect significant habitat as well as for updates to the Biotics Data System database if a significant amount of time passes before the project is implemented.
The SCC said that its staff concluded that the company reasonably demonstrated the need for the proposed rebuild of the line and for the associated substation work. Staff recommended that the SCC issue the necessary certificate of public convenience and necessity for the proposed project.
The SCC said it “is of the opinion and finds that the public convenience and necessity require rebuilding the Dooms-Lexington 500 kV transmission line and performing the associated work at the company’s existing Dooms and Lexington substations as proposed in the company’s application.”
Also, the SCC said it finds that certificates of public convenience and necessity should be issued authorizing the project.
“We find that the company’s load growth forecasts support the need for the project,” the SCC said. “The need for the project to resolve projected violations of NERC standards has not been questioned. Thus, the uncontroverted evidence in this case indicates that the proposed rebuild is necessary to ensure that reliable service is maintained. We therefore find that the proposed rebuild of the Dooms-Lexington Line #555 will effectively meet the company’s long-term transmission reliability needs.”
Furthermore, the SCC found that the proposed project will promote economic development in Virginia by maintaining the operational reliability of the transmission line and, in turn, continuing to ensure the delivery of sufficient supplies of electrical power. In addition, the project will increase the transmission capacity for west-to-east power flows, thereby further supporting economic development in the area.
There are no adverse environmental impacts that would prevent the construction or operation of the proposed project, the SCC said, adding that the proposed project does not represent a hazard to human health or safety.
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).