Hearing examiner recommends approval for Dominion power line rebuild project

A hearing examiner at the Virginia State Corporation Commission on July 26 issued a report recommending commission approval of a request of Dominion Virginia Power to rebuild certain transmission facilities in Fairfax County.

The record of this case supports approval of the rebuild of the facilities with certain modifications. A stipulation was reached by the parties resolving engineering, environmental, and cost issues.

In December 2015, Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power requested a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the proposed transmission line rebuild of 230 kV double circuit lines. The company proposes to rebuild, entirely within existing right-of-way, approximately 2.6 miles of existing 230 kV transmission lines: Jefferson Street-Gum Springs Line #204 and Ox-Gum Springs Line #220, located entirely within Fairfax County, Virginia.

Dominion Virginia Power stated in its application that the Rebuild Project is necessary for the company to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of its transmission system. The company further stated that the Rebuild Project is necessary to maintain reliable electric service to its customers in the area and to perform needed maintenance on its existing facilities.

Said the July 26 recommendation from Hearing Examiner Howard P. Anderson Jr.: “No one questioned the need for the Rebuild Project. The Rebuild Project involves the replacement of aging transmission facilities that are reaching or have reached the end of their service lives. The existing wooden sections of the line between Belvoir Substation and Gum Springs Substation were built in the late 1960s. Most of the wooden cross-arms on Line #220 were replaced with steel cross-arms in the late 1990s. At the same time, some of the remaining wooden cross-arms on Line #204 were also replaced. Even with maintenance to the lines, the Company continued to experience significant reliability events.

“Early in 2014, one of the wooden cross-arms on Line #204 broke and the line should have automatically shut down. However, the line’s protective devices failed to trip the line out of service leaving the damaged transmission line energized, thereby creating a dangerous situation. In the summer of 2014, another wooden cross-arm on Line #204 broke causing the line’s protective device to engage and de-energize the line.

“The existing 230 kV Jefferson Street – Gum Springs Line #204 and Ox – Gum Springs Line #220 provide service to the Company’s Franconia, Belvoir and Gum Springs Substations, which serve more than 36,000 customers including the Fort Belvoir Army Base. During the ten-year period from 2004 to 2014, the coincident summer peak load in the Company’s Alexandria – Arlington Load Area grew from 1,547 megawatts ("MW") to 1,771 MW, an increase of approximately 14.5%. During the same period of time, the coincident summer peak for the Franconia, Belvoir and Gum Springs Substations grew from 258 MW to 278 MW, an increase of approximately 7.8%.

“I find the Company has sustained its burden of proof that the proposed Rebuild Project is required by public convenience and necessity. The Company stated there is an immediate need for the Rebuild Project and that it will begin construction once approved by the Commission.”

Any comments on Anderson’s findings need to be submitted within 10 days of July 26.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.