A Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) hearing examiner, in an Oct. 19 ruling, granted a motion submitted by SCC staff requesting that the procedural schedule involving Appalachian Power Company’s (APCo) South Abingdon 138 kV Extension Transmission Line Project be suspended pending a determination from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
As noted in the ruling, APCo in March filed with the SCC its application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to build and operate electric transmission facilities in Washington County and the Town of Abingdon.
Specifically, the company proposed to build, own, operate and maintain the project, which would consist of the construction of a new 138-kV transmission line on new right of way (ROW) about 3.8 miles long between a tap point on the company’s existing Saltville-Kingsport 138-kV transmission line – about one-third of a mile southwest of the company’s existing Abingdon substation; a new South Abingdon substation to be built on Vances Mill Road in Washington County; and associated improvements to be made at three existing substations in the Abingdon area, including buswork, switches, and related equipment.
The ruling also noted that in support of its Oct. 11 suspension motion, staff confirmed that the company will not proceed with the project until the FAA has reviewed the final line design and made a favorable “determination of no hazard to air navigation.”
After discussions with the company, staff understood that the company has submitted a proposal with preliminary structure locations to the FAA, and a determination by the FAA is anticipated sometime in the first half of 2017. Since respondents in the proceeding have indicated that the FAA determination could have an adverse impact on the Virginia Highlands Airport, and because the SCC has a statutory obligation to consider the effect of any proposed transmission line on economic development, it would be premature for staff to make any recommendation to the SCC before the FAA issues its determination regarding the project.
Therefore, the hearing examiner added, staff requested that the procedural schedule be suspended pending a determination by the FAA regarding the potential impact of the company’s proposed line on the Virginia Highlands Airport. Staff proposed certain guidelines for the resumption of the procedural schedule, including that following the release of the FAA determination, APCo would make a supplementary filing that would include a discussion of the impact of the determination on the project, including any proposed revisions to the project.
The hearing examiner also said that the Virginia Highlands Airport Authority on Oct. 18 filed a response to the staff’s motion stating that it takes no position on that motion, and made it clear that even if the FAA should issue a “determination of no hazard to air navigation,” such determination should not be considered definitive as to whether the proposed transmission project satisfies the requirements of Virginia law and regulation, or whether a certificate for the project should be granted by the SCC.
The county on Oct. 19 filed a response to the staff’s motion stating that it does not object to the motion.
Among other things, the hearing examiner added that the hearings scheduled for Oct. 26 and Nov. 17 in an SCC courtroom are retained for public witnesses.
APCo is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).