The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), in a June 23 order, said that it finds that two Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion Energy Virginia) proposed electric transmission line projects are “ordinary extensions or improvements in the usual course of business” and therefore do not require certificates of public convenience and necessity.
As noted in the order, the company in April filed with the SCC a petition requesting a declaratory judgment determining whether the company is required to obtain CPCNs or SCC approval for the two projects planned by the company – collectively, the “Loop Projects.”
Of one of the projects, the Roundtable Loop – Loudoun County, the SCC noted that to support a future distribution substation needed to adequately serve the load of data center growth in the area, including a Dominion customer (the “Roundtable Customer”), the company would extend two existing 230-kV electric transmission lines, Lines #2137 and #2149, to loop into the planned distribution substation and back to the existing transmission corridor (“Roundtable Loop”).
The Roundtable Customer’s new data centers are presently being built across the street from an existing network of data center campuses located on hundreds of acres of property in an area focused on commercial development in Loudoun County, the SCC said.
As proposed, the Roundtable Loop would be located entirely on the Roundtable Customer’s property in Loudoun County, and within the company’s service territory, the SCC said. That includes a new right of way (ROW) between the existing transmission line ROW and the future distribution substation site, the SCC said, adding that the company indicates that that new ROW, which would be about 390 feet long and 160 feet wide, would be secured from the Roundtable Customer with no need for condemnation. No new ROW is needed from landowners other than the Roundtable Customer, the SCC said.
The Roundtable Loop would relocate one existing structure and install three new structures to support double-circuit, three-phase conductors, with shield wires, that would be about 640 feet and 760 feet in length, the SCC said. The four structures for the Roundtable Loop, including the structure that would be relocated, would be double-circuit steel poles, about 105 feet in height, the SCC said.
The company estimates that the total cost for the Roundtable Loop project would be about $21m, of which $3m would be for the transmission line work, and $18m for the substation, the SCC said.
Of the Triton Loop – Prince William County, the SCC noted that to support a proposed switching station, which would serve a proposed delivery point that Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) would use to serve a data center customer (“Triton Customer”), Dominion would extend from an existing transmission line, Line #2114, about 0.31 mile to loop into the proposed switching station and back to the existing transmission corridor (“Triton Loop”). The data center campus would be located in Prince William County’s Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay, which permits new data centers by right, the SCC said.
As proposed, the Triton Loop would be located entirely on the Triton Customer’s property in Prince William County and within NOVEC’s service territory, the SCC said, adding that that includes a new ROW between the existing transmission line ROW and the future switching station site.
The company indicates that that new ROW, which would be about 0.26 mile long and range between 120 and 200 feet wide, would be secured from the Triton Customer with no need for condemnation, the SCC said. The company further indicates that the Triton Customer would convey the property for the proposed switching station in fee or by way of perpetual easement, without the need for condemnation, the SCC said, adding that no new ROW is needed from landowners other than the Triton Customer.
The Triton Loop would install six 230-kV transmission line structures: two single-circuit, three-pole structures within the existing ROW; two single-circuit steel H-frame structures at the edge of and within the existing ROW; and two double-circuit steel poles along the new ROW that would be conveyed by the Triton Customer, the SCC said.
Double-circuit, three-phase conductors and shield wires would be installed for the approximately 0.31 mile length of the Triton Loop, the SCC said.
The company estimates that the total cost for the Triton Loop project would be about $10m, of which $3m would be for the transmission line work, and $7m for the switching station.
The SCC also noted that NOVEC on May 26 filed comments requesting an SCC determination that the Triton Loop does not require SCC approval or a CPCN from the SCC because the project “qualifies as an ordinary extension or improvements in the usual course of business.”
The SCC noted that staff on May 31 filed comments saying that a CPCN should be required for the construction of new transmission lines that, like the Loop Projects, are 138 kV or greater and require new ROW. Staff’s comments, for instance, identify new ROW as an important consideration in SCC determinations of whether electric transmission line projects require a CPCN, the SCC said.
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on June 1 filed comments supporting Dominion’s petition and supporting “waiver of the [CPCN] for the Roundtable Loop in Loudoun County,” the SCC said.
The company on June 7 filed its reply, asserting, among other things, that the SCC determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether the “ordinary extension” exception of Code § 56-265.2 A.1 applies, and that the Loop Projects are ordinary and therefore do not require CPCNs.
The SCC added that based on the specific facts of this case, it finds that the Loop Projects are “ordinary extensions or improvements in the usual course of business” and therefore do not require CPCNs.
That finding, the SCC said, is strictly limited to the facts of this case, including that:
- The Loop Projects are about 0.14 and 0.31 mile long, extending from existing transmission line corridors
- The structure heights for the Loop Projects are about 40-110 feet, and about 105 feet, with the tallest structures comparable in height to, or shorter than, structures in the existing transmission line corridors
- The routes are through one heavily commercial area that includes data center campuses and another area that is explicitly zoned for data centers
- The only new ROWs required will be supplied voluntarily by the requesting customers for which the Loop Projects are being undertaken
The SCC noted that the only public comments received express support for the company’s petition.
“However, we emphasize that our determination herein cannot be relied upon as precedent for any facility that a public utility may plan to construct in the future,” the SCC said. “For an electric transmission line project that is not the subject of the instant proceeding, the Code may, depending on the specific facts of such a project, require a CPCN even though the only new right-of-way would be provided voluntarily by a requesting customer. The plain language of the Code … requires such determinations to be made on a case-by-case basis for any such project, which may, among other things, involve a line length, route, structures, environmental impacts, and/or cost differing from the Loop Projects considered herein.”