Dominion Virginia Power provides update on project involving 500-kV line

Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion Virginia Power) on Feb. 9 filed an update with Virginia state regulators on the status of the company’s project involving the Surry–Skiffes Creek 500-kV transmission line.

As TransmissionHub reported, Dominion Virginia Power in June 2012 filed with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) an application for approval and certification of an electric transmission project, proposing to build the new, overhead, 500-kV electric transmission line from the company’s existing 500-kV-230-kV Surry switching station in Surry County to a new 500-kV-230-kV-115-kV Skiffes Creek switching station in James City County (Surry–Skiffes Creek Line); the Skiffes Creek switching station; a new 230-kV line in the counties of James City and York and the City of Newport News, from the proposed Skiffes station to the company’s existing Whealton substation located in the City of Hampton (Skiffes Creek–Whealton Line); and additional facilities at the existing Surry switching station and Whealton substation (collectively, the “certificated project”).

The SCC in November 2013, February 2014 and April 2014, issued orders in the proceeding that, among other things, granted the company’s application and approved certificates of public convenience and necessity for the certificated project, subject to certain requirements. The SCC, in a Feb. 8, 2014, order amending certificates, said that the approved construction must be completed and in service by Dec. 31, 2015, provided, however, that the company is granted leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.

The company, in its Feb. 9 filing, said that it has continued with its permitting efforts to build the facilities that have been approved and certificated by the SCC. The company noted that it must obtain permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to place fill material in the James River for construction of the transmission line towers and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for resulting obstructions to navigation.

The company in March 2012 filed a joint permit application (JPA) for the Corps permits for the Surry to Skiffes Creek portion of the certificated project, and a separate JPA for the Skiffes Creek to Whealton portion in June 2013. The company added that it submitted in August 2013 a combined JPA for the Surry–Skiffes Creek Line and the Skiffes Creek–Whealton Line, and that combined JPA superseded the permit applications for each such line that had been submitted in March 2012 and June 2013.

The Corps last October published its preliminary alternatives conclusions white paper, which concluded that based on information presented to date, the Corps’ preliminary finding is that two alternatives appear to meet the project purpose while reasonably complying with the evaluation criteria: the Surry–Skiffes–Whealton 500-kV OH (AC) (Dominion’s preferred) and Chickahominy–Skiffes–Whealton 500-kV.

The Corps further noted that other alternatives are unavailable due to cost, for instance, and added, “Please note this is not a decision on whether Dominion’s preferred alternative is or is not permittable, nor does it exclude further consideration of alternatives should new information become available.”

The company said that the Corps will make its final selection of alternatives when it issues the environmental assessment (EA), which will accompany the permit decision.

The company also noted that the two Corps permits prompt review under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The NHPA process has four components, including evaluation of whether and to what extent the federally permitted project will have an adverse effect on historic properties, as well as mitigation of those adverse effects. The company added that that process began with the issuance of the initial public notice in August 2013.

The Corps last May issued a third public notice to assist in evaluation of the effects of the certificated project on identified historic properties and evaluation of alternatives or modifications that could avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects of the undertaking. The Corps published a consolidated effects report last October, the company added.

A draft mitigation plan was developed, and the Corps provided for a consulting parties comment period on the draft mitigation plan. The company also said that a draft mitigation plan and comment period ended on Jan. 29. Noting that a fifth consulting parties meeting was held on Feb. 2 to discuss mitigation for impacts to historic properties, the company said that the Corps is working toward entering into a memorandum of agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regarding mitigation.

The company also noted that it filed a special use permit (SUP) application, a rezoning request, a substantial accord determination request, and a height waiver application for a switching station in James City County (JCC) associated with the certificated project.

The JCC Planning Commission last August voted 4-2 against recommending approval of the switching station, the company said, adding that it filed an appeal of the substantial accord determination to the JCC Board of Supervisors. The company added that the JCC Board will make the final determination on the SUP, rezoning and height waiver requests and will hear the appeal on the substantial accord determination.

Among other things, the company said that it sought on Jan. 8 an additional deferral of action by the board until the March 8 JCC Board meeting; the county approved that request at its Jan. 12 meeting. However, due to further delay in the Corps process, the company said that it is seeking an additional deferral until the Aug. 9 JCC Board meeting unless the Corps issues its permits before then.

The company also noted that on Dec. 1, 2015, it filed with the SCC a motion to extend the date for completion and placement in service of the certificated project to the date 20 months after the date on which the Corps issues a construction permit for the certificated project. The SCC on Dec. 22, 2015, issued an order granting that motion.

Dominion Virginia Power said that in order to ensure reliability for the Peninsula while the Surry–Skiffes Creek Line is being built in anticipation of the Yorktown Unit 1 and 2 retirements, the company is conducting an inspection and maintenance program. The focus of that program is transmission lines and stations for assets that directly serve the Peninsula, the company said, adding that foundation work on the existing transmission lines at the James River Bridge was completed at the end of last year.

The company said, “If the certificated project is not in service by the time that Yorktown Units 1 and 2 must retire to be in compliance with effective environmental regulations, then the plan for maintaining system reliability for the Peninsula will include careful planning of transmission outages and minimum work on assets on the Peninsula while the planned outages to support the construction of the certificated project outages are underway.”

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

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3279 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 16 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 clinares@endeavorb2b.com.