The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in its Feb. 1 filing submitted to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), said that its Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection (OWSP) recommends Alternative Route B-1 for Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion Virginia Power’s) proposed Remington–Gordonsville 230-kV Transmission Line Project.
According to the OWSP, that route has the lowest probability for wetlands and crosses the least number of aquatic features. The DEQ also said that Madison County does not support Alternative Routes B-1 or B-4 for the project due to the environmental and historic impacts that they would have on the county. In addition, the state Department of Historic Resources (DHR) concurs with the company’s preferred route, Option A, since it will consist of rebuilding transmission towers and will not further cut into the landscape for the construction of new towers, the DEQ said.
As noted in the filing, Dominion has submitted an application to the SCC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to install transmission lines in Fauquier, Culpeper, Orange and Albemarle counties and uprate sections of transmission line in Albemarle and Louisa counties in Virginia.
The purpose of the project is to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of the transmission system and to comply with reliability standards by relieving excess demand on the existing Gordonsville substation, the DEQ said.
The project involves the installation of about 38.1 miles of the 230-kV Remington–Gordonsville Line #2153 between Dominion’s existing Remington substation in Fauquier County and the Gordonsville substation in Albemarle County. Associated 230-kV facilities would be built and installed at the Gordonsville and Remington substations, the DEQ added.
The transmission line would be installed entirely along and primarily within an existing transmission right of way (ROW). The DEQ also said that in conjunction with the project, Dominion would uprate sections of its 115-kV Line #2, #70 and #11 on the same structures as proposed for the project and reconductor the Gordonsville–Louisa 230-kV line #2088 in Albemarle and Louisa counties.
The project also would involve 230-kV conductor improvements at the Remington and Gordonsville substations. The DEQ added that at the Remington substation, all work would occur within the existing station fence.
The company’s preferred option, the proposed route, or Option A, consists of the removal of the existing 115-kV lines in the Remington-Gordonsville transmission line corridor and construction of double-circuit 230/115-kV structures that would support the existing 115-kV and new 230-kV lines.
Noting that the DEQ OWSP completed a wetland impact consultation for the proposed project last December, the DEQ said that a report identified a high to medium/high probability of 21.1 acres of wetlands for Option A and 20.2 acres of wetlands for Alternate Route B-1. In addition to the DEQ OWSP recommending Alternate Route B-1 as the preferred route, the DEQ said that it recommends that prior to 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 further noted that a number of natural heritage resources were identified as occurring in the vicinity of the project area.
In addition, there is potential for the Northern Long-eared bat to occur within the project areas, the DEQ said, adding that due to the decline in population numbers, the Northern Long-eared bat has been federally listed as “threatened” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The DEQ said that due to the legal status of the Northern Long-eared bat, if tree removal is proposed for the project, the company should coordinate with the USFWS to ensure compliance with protected species legislation.
On recreational resources, the DEQ said, for instance, that the DCR recommends that land disturbance be stabilized using native plant species to enhance the visual characteristics of the alignment.
Regarding historic and archaeological resources, the DEQ said that the proposed route does intersect potential National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) areas. The DHR recommended avoidance, minimization, and/or mitigation of moderate to severe impacts to Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR)/NRHP-eligible resources by Dominion in consultation with DHR and other stakeholders.
Among other things, the DEQ discussed Madison County’s comments on the project, noting that according to the county, environmental impacts include the destruction of 137.7 acres of forest land for Alternative B-1 and 106.5 acres for Alternative B-4. Additionally, according to the county, Alternatives B-1 and B-4 would cross multiple waterbodies and impact many acres of wetlands. The DEQ added that the county recommends that Option B be removed from consideration, and if Option B is chosen, the company should coordinate with the county regarding compliance with applicable local requirements.
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).