The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), in a June 23 final order, said that it finds that Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion Energy Virginia) proposed project involving a 230-kV transmission line and 230-34.5-kV substation is needed.
The SCC approved construction and operation of the company’s Haymarket 230-kV Double Circuit Transmission Line and 230-34.5-kV Haymarket Substation project along the “Carver Road Route.”
As TransmissionHub reported, Dominion Energy Virginia on June 5 told the SCC that construction of the “Railroad Route” for the project is not possible due to the legal inability to procure the necessary rights of way (ROW).
As noted in the company’s filing, in November 2015, it filed an application with the SCC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for the proposed project. The company said that it proposed to convert its existing 115-kV Gainesville-Loudoun Line #124, located in Prince William and Loudoun counties in Virginia, to 230-kV operation; build in Prince William County and the Town of Haymarket, Va., a new 230-kV double-circuit transmission line to run about 5.1 miles from a tap point about 0.5 mile north of the company’s existing Gainesville substation on the converted Line #124 to a new 230-35.4-kV Haymarket substation; and build a 230-34.5-kV Haymarket substation on land in Prince William County to be owned by the company.
The company noted that a hearing examiner issued a report last November, recommending that there is a need for the project; that the overhead “Carver Road Alternative Route” reasonably minimizes impacts and should be the approved route; and that the SCC should issue to the company a CPCN to build and operate the project.
The SCC in April entered an interim order, finding that the public convenience and necessity require the company to build the project and that a CPCN should be issued. The company added that the SCC found that “both the Railroad Route and the Carver Road Route meet the statutory criteria in this case,” and that the SCC noted that it “finds it significant that (after the Railroad Route) the Carver Road Route has the least amount of residences within 200 feet of the line … [and] was also designed specifically to avoid crossing through certain residential areas and reasonably collocates with existing infrastructure.”
The SCC found the Railroad Route preferable to the Carver Road Route due to its lesser impact on local residences at a cost that is comparable – and $7m less – than the Carver Road Route, the company said.
The company noted that it was documented in the proceeding that the Railroad Route was not constructible due to the existence of an open space easement held and controlled by Prince William County. Accordingly, the company added, in order to implement the Railroad Route, the SCC directed the company “to request Prince William County to take the actions necessary to remove any legal constraints blocking construction of the Railroad Route.”
The SCC noted that “[i]f Prince William County does not grant Dominion [Energy Virginia’s] request to permit construction of the Railroad Route, we necessarily find that such route is unfeasible … [and] the proposed project would need to be constructed along the Carver Road Route,” according to the company.
The company noted that it sent a letter request in early May to Prince William County, formally requesting that the county “take, or provide a written commitment to take and expeditiously complete, the necessary actions to remove any legal constraints to the construction and operation of the project on the Railroad Route.”
As noted on a June 1 post under “News” on the county’s website, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors has voted unanimously to deny the company access to build the overhead transmission line across property at Somerset Crossing, which the county noted is protected by an open space easement held by the county.
The county noted that the board’s resolution formally “[denies Dominion’s request to take the actions necessary to remove any legal constraints to the construction and operation of the project through the Railroad Route as it pertains to the open-space easement.”
The resolution, the county said, further “reaffirms its commitment to support the I-66 Hybrid Alternative Route,” and “opposes both the Railroad Route and the Carver Road Route.”
As TransmissionHub reported, the SCC said in its interim order that the Railroad Route is the only route that impacts zero residences within 200 feet of the centerline, and it impacts significantly fewer residences within 500 feet of the centerline compared to the I-66 Overhead Route. Furthermore, the heavily wooded area along that route will provide screening, aiding to minimize remaining visual impacts of the line.
The SCC added that the Carver Road Route crosses no permanently protected open space or other conservation easements, and it contains no architectural resources within the ROW. After the Railroad Route, the Carver Road Route has the least amount of residences within 200 feet of the line, and it impacts significantly fewer residences within 500 feet of the centerline compared to the I-66 Overhead Route, the SCC said. The Carver Road Route avoids permanent impacts to the highest concentration of residents in the vicinity of I-66, the SCC said.
The I-66 Hybrid Route would place about 3.2 miles of the line underground.
In its June 5 filing, the company requested that the SCC issue a final order that approves the Carver Road Route, with a noted variation, as necessary; and issues a CPCN to the company to build and operate the project.
In its June 23 final order, the SCC said that it remains “sensitive to the fact that while we have found constructing the proposed project along the Carver Road Route satisfies the statutory requirements, such finding does not mean there will be no visual impact. To further mitigate visual impact, we will require the chemical dulling of the structure finish for this particular project, consistent with our findings in recent transmission line orders.”