The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), in a Nov. 3 order, revised its September 2016 final order in relation to a project proposed by Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion Energy Virginia).
As noted in the order, the SCC, by final order issued in September 2016, authorized the company to rebuild, entirely within existing right of way (ROW), about 2.6 miles of existing 230-kV transmission lines: Jefferson Street-Gum Springs Line #204 and Ox-Gum Springs Line #220, located entirely in Fairfax County, Va.
As TransmissionHub reported, the SCC said in the September 2016 order that the company in December 2015, filed with it the application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to rebuild the lines.
The company said in its application that the project is necessary for the company to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of its transmission system, as well as to maintain reliable electric service to customers in the area.
The company originally proposed to remove 48 existing structures and erect 18 new ones, the SCC said, adding that while the existing poles are, on average, about 60 feet tall, most of the new poles were proposed to be between 100 feet and 125 feet tall.
Certain respondents in the case expressed concern that the height of the structures proposed by the company may adversely impact views from the Historic Huntley House and may affect birds flying above the tree line in Huntley Meadows Park.
SCC staff in May 2016 filed a report with the SCC, agreeing with the company that the continued operation of the lines is necessary for maintaining electric reliability. The SCC added that staff understood the respondents’ concerns and found that both the project as proposed by the company, as well as a rebuild that uses structures of a reduced height of 90 feet, would be viable options to address the need.
In rebuttal testimony, the company said that building 90-foot-tall structures would significantly increase the number of structures and foundations that would be required and would require the company to erect temporary structures, which would increase the project’s cost from about $10.4m to about $18.1m, and would increase the construction time from four months to 12 months.
The company, Fairfax County, the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park and the Friends of Historic Huntley, at a June 2016, evidentiary hearing, presented the stipulation and recommendation, resolving the contested issues in the case. The SCC added that the stipulation set forth, among other things, that the company would use 100-foot structures when building the project, and that the company install, as a cost of the project, bird diverters along the entire rebuild section of the line within the Huntley Meadows Park and pay for a monitoring program to report on bird fatalities along the easement, if two or more bird fatalities are documented to occur in any calendar quarter and are found to be caused by the rebuild section of the line.
A hearing examiner, in a July 2016 report, found that the stipulation was reasonable and should be accepted, the SCC said.
The SCC said that it finds that the project is needed and that the record reflects that completing the project would replace an aging transmission line that is nearing the end of its expected service life, thereby enabling the company to maintain the overall long-term reliability of its transmission system.
Due to the fact that the project will be located within existing ROW, and given the agreements reached by the stipulating parties in the proposed stipulation, the SCC said in its September 2016 order that it finds that adverse impacts on scenic assets and historic districts in Virginia will be minimized.
In its Nov. 3 order, the SCC noted that the September 2016 final order required that the approved project be built and in service by Dec. 1, 2017, but provided the company leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.
The company on Oct. 6 filed a motion requesting an extension from Dec. 1, to May 31, 2018, for the construction and in-service date for the project.
The company asserts that, due to additional care that is needed to ensure that it performs its work in a manner that is consistent with conservation, mitigation/avoidance, and monitoring activities that the company agreed to undertake as part of the stipulation, an extension beyond the current completion date of Dec. 1, is required, the SCC added.
The company submits that the requested extension will not prejudice any person or party, and states that it contacted counsel for SCC staff, as well as the respondents in the proceeding prior to filing its motion, the SCC said. Staff, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have authorized the company to represent that they do not object to the requested extension.
The SCC added that its September 2016 final order is to be revised to read that the project must be built and in service by May 31, 2018; however, the company is granted leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.