A hearing examiner, in a Jan. 8 report filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), recommended that the SCC issue to Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia a certificate of public convenience and necessity so that the company may build and operate a proposed electric transmission rebuild project.
As noted in the report, the company last June filed with the SCC an application for a certificate to build and operate electric transmission facilities in Prince William County, Va.
The company has proposed to rebuild, entirely within an existing right of way (ROW) and company owned property, about 8.5 miles of existing 115-kV transmission lines, Possum Point-Smoketown Line #18 and Possum Point-Smoketown Line #145, which are located between the existing 115-kV switchyard at the company’s Possum Point Power Station site and the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) Smoketown Delivery Point (DP).
The hearing examiner’s report also noted that from the Possum Point Station, the route heads north and continues for 1.5 miles, then continues northwest for about 3.8 miles before turning northeast for about 3.1 miles, and terminating about 400 feet north of the Smoketown DP.
The hearing examiner said that the company proposes to use 230-kV design on all but the first 0.7-mile segment originating from the 115-kV switchyard at the Possum Point Station site, which would be rebuilt to 115-kV design. While the company proposes to build the lines to operate at 230 kV, it said that operation of the line would continue at 115 kV until needed to serve the Northern Virginia Load Area.
The hearing examiner added that the company proposes to remove 125 of the 130 existing structures that support Lines #18 and #145 between the Possum Point Station and NOVEC’s Smoketown DP; those structures would be replaced by 88 new structures to be installed within the scope of the proposed rebuild project.
The existing Lines #18 and #145 are supported by single-circuit wooden and weathering steel H-frames, double-circuit three-pole wooden H-frame structures, double steel H-frames, double-circuit weathering steel poles and double-circuit galvanized lattice steel H-frames.
The hearing examiner also noted that the wooden pole section of Line #18 was originally built in 1954, while the wooden pole section of Line #145 was originally built in 1948. In 1987, the double-circuit weathering steel poles were installed at the Possum Point Power Station site, the report said, adding that about 50 of the original wooden poles have been replaced with weathering steel poles over the last six years to address maintenance and reliability issues.
The hearing examiner noted that SCC staff does not oppose the company’s request for a certificate, and has concluded that the company has sufficiently demonstrated the need for the rebuild of Lines #18 and #145 based on the company’s end-of-life criteria.
In addition, the hearing examiner said that the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) prepared a report on the project that listed such recommendations as for the company to conduct an on-site delineation of wetlands and streams within the project area with verification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The hearing examiner said that the company has demonstrated a need for the proposed rebuild project. Noting that most of the structures to be replaced are 63 years to 69 years old, he said that the rebuild project is necessary to assure that the company can maintain and improve reliable electric service to customers served by Lines #18 and #145.
Specifically, he said that the company has determined that it is more cost effective to perform a complete rebuild, at an approximate cost of $18.8m, than to continue repairing or replacing individual components at an estimated cost of about $24.9m.
Among other things, the hearing examiner said that he finds that the proposed rebuild project would have minimal impact on the environment, and that the recommendations contained in the DEQ report, with the exception involving “the Biotics database,” should be adopted.
He also noted that he finds that the transmission line structures and conductors should not be chemically dulled as a mitigation measure based on the facts in the case. The transmission lines to be rebuilt are contained in a transmission corridor that has other transmission lines that have not been chemically dulled, but have weathered naturally. The new structures and conductors, he added, would dull naturally beginning in about the first six months after construction, and would develop a similar appearance to the existing structures in a few years.