Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) staff, in a July 14 report, concluded that Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion Virginia Power) has sufficiently demonstrated the need for the rebuild of the Cunningham–Dooms 500-kV Line #534.
Accordingly, staff said that it does not oppose the company’s request that the SCC issue the necessary certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for the proposed project.
Staff also recommended that the company’s rebuttal testimony provide the SCC with information responsive to the concerns expressed in the public comments. Specifically, the company should detail whether using structures with a dulled finish is a feasible alternative, and if so, provide the incremental costs associated with that change.
As staff noted, the company in March filed its application requesting that the SCC authorize the rebuild, entirely within its existing right of way (ROW), of the 500-kV transmission line from the company’s existing Cunningham station in Fluvanna County to the company’s existing Dooms station in Augusta County. The company proposes to rebuild the line in the existing ROW over the approximately 32.7-mile distance between the stations with a new single-circuit 500-kV line.
The rebuild project traverses three counties in Virginia: Augusta (about 4.2 miles), Albemarle (about 25.1 miles), and Fluvanna (about 3.4 miles).
The proposed project, staff added, would replace existing structures with new ones, and the rebuild would share the same ROW as the existing Cunningham–Elmont 500-kV Line #553, Dooms–Charlottesville 230-kV Lines #233/#291, and Dooms –Sherwood 115-kV Line #39 already located in the transmission corridor.
When completed, the ROW – starting from the Dooms station and moving toward the Cunningham station – would include:
- Rebuilt 500-kV Line #534, existing 230-kV Lines #233/#291, and existing 115-kV Line #39 for about 0.8 miles with an ROW width of 275 feet
- Existing 115-kV Line #39 and rebuilt 500-kV Line #534 for about 1.3 miles, with an ROW width of 215 feet
- Existing 230-kV Lines #233/#291, existing 115-kV Line #39, and rebuilt Line #534 for about two miles with an ROW width of 292 feet
The company said that the line provides service to the company’s 500-kV transmission system in the western and central regions of Virginia, and is a critical component of the electric transmission grid that serves Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and beyond. The proposed rebuild has been reviewed by the PJM Interconnection Southern Sub-regional Committee and the PJM Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee, and was approved by the PJM Board as a baseline upgrade (b2665) last December.
Staff also said that according to the company, the construction of the existing line was completed in 1966 as part of the company’s original 500-kV loop, and is part of the first 500-kV transmission system built in North America. The company said that the line was built with “first-generation 500 kV technology,” and that after 50 years of continuous operation, the line is nearing the end of its service life and requires replacement in order to maintain reliable service.
Staff added that the company seeks to have the line rebuilt and in service by the summer of 2019 – beginning June 1 – in order to satisfy the requirements of the mandatory NERC transmission planning standards to which the company is obligated, and to meet the company’s transmission planning criteria.
The estimated cost for the rebuild project is about $59m, of which about $58.5m is for line work, $245,000 is for station work at the Cunningham station, and $246,000 is for work at the Dooms station.
As a PJM baseline reliability 500-kV project, the cost would be socialized throughout the PJM system according to the methodology approved by PJM last December, staff added. The Dominion Zone would be allocated 42.12% of the project cost, or about $24.6m for work on the line, and about $206,388 for station work. The cost to be allocated to Virginia consumers would therefore be about $24.8m, staff added, noting that the other member utilities of PJM that would benefit from the project would be apportioned the remaining cost.
Several public comments requested a local hearing be convened in the vicinity of the rebuild and on July 1, the hearing examiner scheduled a local public hearing in Albemarle County for Aug. 8, staff said.
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).