The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in its March 24 report filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), listed various recommendations regarding Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion Virginia Power) proposed rebuild project, including that the company conduct on on-site delineation of wetlands and streams within the project area with verification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As noted in the DEQ report, Dominion Virginia Power submitted an application to the SCC for approval to rebuild, entirely within existing right of way (ROW), 1.3 miles of existing double circuit 230-kV transmission lines, Surry–Yadkin Line #223 and Churchland–Surry Line #226, located between the Harbour View substation and Smithfield substation in Suffolk, Va.
Dominion Virginia Power proposes to replace five existing 230-kV double circuit suspension-type lattice towers located in the Nansemond River that support Lines #223 and #226. The DEQ added that the existing structures are galvanized steel and were originally built in the late 1960s. The five replacement structures would be located about 60 feet south of the existing structures, centerline to centerline.
One 230-kV double circuit, weathering steel, double deadend type tower on each bank of the Nansemond River would also be removed and replaced with a galvanized steel, double deadend type monopole. The monopole structure would be located about 60 feet south of the existing structures on each riverbank, resulting in a total replacement of seven existing structures with seven new structures.
The DEQ also said that in addition to the structure replacement, the company proposes to replace 1.3 miles of the existing three-phased 721 (18/19) ACAR twin-bundled conductors of Lines #223 and 226 with 1.3 miles of three-phased 768 ACSS/TW/HS-285 (20/7) twin-bundled conductors. One span of existing three-phased 721 (18/19) ACAR twin-bundled conductors would be transferred to each proposed riverbank structure. The transferred conductor would be mechanically spliced to the proposed conductor to energize the two 230-kV lines, the DEQ added.
Discussing recommendations, the DEQ said that its Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection recommends that wetland and stream impacts should be avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable. Stream impacts should be minimized or avoided by spanning the transmission line across each stream, and no foundations should be placed within streambeds. Furthermore, no activity may substantially disrupt the movement of aquatic life indigenous to the water body, including those species that normally migrate through the area, unless the primary purpose of the activity is to impound water.
Of air quality, the DEQ said that its Air Division finds that the project is located within an ozone attainment and emission control area for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Dominion should take all reasonable precautions to limit emissions of NOx and VOCs, principally by controlling or limiting the burning of fossil fuels, the DEQ said.
Discussing natural heritage resources, the DEQ said that due to the scope of the activity and the distance to the resources, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation does not anticipate that the project would adversely impact such resources.
Of wildlife resources, the DEQ said that according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) records, the federally listed endangered Atlantic sturgeon has been documented downstream of the project area. Based on DGIF’s discussions with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, it appears that the project scope and location requires coordination with them to ensure protection of Atlantic sturgeon as the project moves forward.
Also, the DGIF documents the occurrence of the Peregrine falcon from a nest box located downstream of the project at the Mills Godwin Bridge on the Nansemond River. DGIF typically recommends that project activities not occur within 600 feet of the nest box during the Peregrine falcon breeding season from Feb. 15 through July 15 of any year. However, the DEQ added, the DGIF finds that it does not appear that the project is located within 600 feet of the Mills Godwin Bridge nest box.
The DGIF recommends that Dominion Virginia Power confirm the distance from the bridge to the project site to ensure the project is not located within the 600-foot protection zone around the nest box, the DEQ said.
The DGIF also offered general recommendations to minimize the adverse impacts of linear utility project development on wildlife resources, including that the company:
- Avoid and minimize impacts to undisturbed forest, wetlands and streams to the fullest extent practicable
- Conduct significant tree removal and ground-clearing activities outside of the primary songbird nesting season of March 15 through Aug. 15
- Implement and maintain appropriate erosion and sediment controls throughout project construction and site restoration
Among other things, the DEQ discussed historic and archeological resources, noting that DHR recommends that the company, for instance, assess potential direct and indirect impacts to all Virginia Landmarks Register/National Register of Historic Places-eligible resources, including Town Point Farm and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT.
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).