Virginia agency issues environmental report on proposed Dominion Virginia Power line

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued several recommendations, such as to limit the use of pesticides and herbicides to the extent practicable, for consideration by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in relation to Virginia Electric and Power’s d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed 230-kV Dooms-Lexington Line #2168.

The 39.1-mile line would go between the company’s Dooms switching station in Augusta County, Va., and its Lexington Station in Rockbridge County, Va. The company also said in its Nov. 7, 2013, application for approval and certification of electric facilities that the project is needed to assure the company can continue providing reliable electric service to its customers in the Lexington Station area, consistent with mandatory NERC reliability standards for transmission facilities and the company’s transmission planning criteria.

According to a Dec. 18, 2013, SCC order, SCC staff has requested the DEQ to begin its wetland impacts and coordinated environmental reviews.

The SCC said it will accept comments on the application and will consider requests for a hearing on the application.

By Feb. 14, any interested person may file written comments on the application with the SCC, as well as a written request for a hearing. By Feb. 24, SCC staff is to file with the SCC clerk its report and exhibits regarding its investigation of the application. Also, by March 3, Dominion Virginia Power may file with the clerk any comments on the staff report, comments from interested persons and requests for hearing that were filed with the SCC.

According to the Jan. 8 DEQ report, the purpose of the review is to develop information for SCC staff about potential impacts to natural and cultural resources associated with the proposed project. Several agencies and other entities joined in the review, including the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

The recommendations are in addition to requirements of certain federal, state or local law or regulations and include reducing solid waste at the source, reusing it and recycling it to the maximum extent practicable and following DEQ’s recommendations to manage waste, as applicable, and coordinating with the Department of Historic Resources regarding its recommendations to protect historic and archaeological resources.

According to the information provided, the DEQ added, the project centerline crosses 12 perennial streams and 39 intermittent streams.

“Dominion indicates that its project planning has considered avoidance and minimization of wetland and stream impacts along the project route,” the DEQ said. “Further, Dominion is committed to additional wetland and stream avoidance and minimization efforts, where practical, during project construction by” maintaining 100-foot-wide buffers along either side of streams, for instance.

The DEQ Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection (OWSP) recommended, among other things, that before beginning project work, all wetlands and streams within the project corridor should be field delineated and verified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Also, wetland and stream impacts should be avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable, the DEQ added, noting that towers should be placed to avoid wetlands, wherever possible, for instance.

Other recommendations included in the report include implementing and strictly adhering to applicable state and local erosion and sediment controls and stormwater management laws and regulations to minimize adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem as a result of the proposed activities, and coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to ensure compliance with protected species legislation due to the legal status of the Madison Cave Isopod.

The Madison Cave Isopod is an extremely rare troglobitic species that typically inhabits cave lakes and ranges from Lexington, Va., to Leetown, W.Va. Threats to the Madison Cave Isopod include groundwater pollution and disruptive human activities. The species, the DEQ added, is currently listed as threatened by the FWS and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Another recommendation is for the company to adhere to a time-of-year restriction from Oct. 1 through March 31 of any year for all instream work, whether resulting in temporary or permanent impacts, in Sawmill Run, Otts Creek and a tributary to Otts Creek, the DEQ said.

Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 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 corinar@pennwell.com.