Virginia transmission siting bill being continued until 2017

A Virginia General Assembly measure that would require more consideration of impacts to historic resources when siting electric transmission projects has been continued into 2017.

Virginia House Bill 908 addresses how the State Corporation Commission (SCC) should approach the siting of electric transmission lines and how the proposed power infrastructure would affect historic sites.

The measure was introduced Jan. 12 by Del. Randall Minchew (R-Leesburg). Virginia’s online Legislative Information System lists a total of 10 patrons of the bill – including Minchew.

The bill requires the SCC, prior to approving the construction of any electrical transmission lines of 138 kV or more, to determine that the corridor or route chosen for the line will avoid any adverse impact on the scenic assets, historic resources, and environment of the area concerned.

If the SCC determines that no route or corridor exists that can avoid any such adverse impact, the SCC is directed to choose the corridor or route that minimizes such adverse impacts to the greatest extent reasonably practicable, according to a summary of the bill.

Currently, the SCC is required to determine that such a line’s corridor or route will reasonably minimize adverse impact on the scenic assets, historic districts, and environment of the area concerned, according to a summary of the proposal.

The bill was soon referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Labor. That committee’s special subcommittee on energy voted 10-2 in February to report it out of committee with certain amendments.

On Feb. 11, the bill was continued until the 2017 session in Commerce and Labor by a voice vote.

The Commerce and Labor Committee lists more than two dozen bills being continued into 2017, including one that addressed distributed generation and net metering, and another piece of legislation that would set up a Virginia Energy Storage Consortium.

As for the Minchew bill, a June article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper described the legislation as “stalled.” The article suggested that Sen. Frank W. Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, fears that additional transmission restrictions could delay installation of the Dominion Resources (NYSE:D) Skiffes Creek high-voltage transmission line proposed by subsidiary Dominion Virginia Power between Surry and James City counties.

The SCC has approved the 500-kV Surry–Skiffes transmission line project. The project would include about eight miles total; about 1.5 miles on Dominion land at the Surry Power Station in Surry County, 4.1 miles overhead across the James River, and 2.3 miles on land in southern James City County, according to a Dominion website.

In addition, the SCC has approved the 20-mile, 230-kV Skiffes Creek–Whealton project.

The project will run from the approved Skiffes Creek switching station south to the existing Whealton substation. Dominion plans to reconfigure the existing transmission lines and towers in order to accommodate a new 230-kV line. Final engineering has not been completed and several different structure types are being considered, according to Dominion.

The transmission projects are expected to help Dominion minimize the potential impact of certain power plant retirements.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3055 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 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.