Dominion Virginia Power is pleased with the Supreme Court of Virginia’s unanimous upholding of the State Corporation Commission’s order approving the construction of a proposed 500-kilovolt transmission line over the James River from Surry to James City County. With this ruling, the company will continue to move forward with plans to construct this critical infrastructure so that reliable electric service in the region can be maintained. Dominion will continue to assess multiple options regarding the switching station portion of the transmission line.
“There is an undeniable fact that there is an urgent need to deliver more energy to the Peninsula and the court has affirmed that the State Corporation Commission has chosen the best option,” said Robert M. Blue, President of Dominion Virginia Power.
The Supreme Court upheld the SCC’s determination that “the selected route reasonably minimizes adverse impacts on [historic] resources in the Historic Triangle.”
In June 2012, Dominion Virginia Power proposed new transmission facilities to provide a new source of power to provide reliable service to the Peninsula area in the wake of the upcoming closure of Yorktown Power Station coal-fired units 1 and 2.
The project was approved by the SCC in November 2013. Dominion is awaiting a decision by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to begin construction.
The court found the SCC was correct when it weighed a multitude of factors in approving the transmission line. “In this case, the record shows that the Commission considered, in light of these factors, numerous alternatives, proposed by not only Dominion, but also James City County, BASF, environmental groups, the Commission’s staff, and the Hearing Examiner. These alternatives included transmission in different locations, lower voltage transmission, underground transmission, generation (that is, power plant) options, combinations of generation and transmission, and demand-side management (for example, lower electric demand by consumers).
Three generating units (two coal and one oil) are still in operation at Yorktown Power Station. In 2011, because of the EPA’s new environmental regulations, Dominion announced plans to close Units 1 and 2 at the end of 2014, leaving Unit 3 available to operate during peak times. The Virginia DEQ granted an extension of the retirement date for Units 1 and 2 for one year until April 2016. The EPA has the authority to issue an Administrative Order (AO) that could allow Units 1 and 2 to operate one additional year until April 2017. Dominion plans to file for the AO later in 2015.
To maintain compliance with North American Electric Reliability Council standards to ensure the integrity and reliability of the overall electric grid, the company will be forced to regularly initiate rotating blackouts on the Peninsula during periods of peak electric demand. Dominion estimates that this would be necessary 80 times in a typical year, usually on the hottest or coldest days if the line is not in service by the time the two Yorktown coal units are retired.