A rebuild project – a partial rebuild of Lines #211 and #228 – proposed by Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power is needed to address aging infrastructure and maintain transmission system reliability, a Virginia hearing examiner said in a Sept. 26 report filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
As noted by the hearing examiner, the company in May filed with the commission an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to build and operate the electric transmission facilities in Chesterfield County, Prince George County, Va., and the City of Hopewell. Specifically, the company proposes rebuilding portions of the company’s existing 230-kV transmission lines #211 and #228, as well as completing certain equipment replacements at the company’s Hopewell and Chesterfield substations, the hearing examiner said.
The company’s existing 230-kV Lines #211 and #228 run together about 11 miles, extending from the company’s Chesterfield substation to its Hopewell substation, supported by shared, double-circuit structures. In its application, the company proposed a partial rebuild of those lines, the hearing examiner added, noting that the company would replace 49 existing 230-kV, double-circuit structures used to support Lines #211 and #228 with 49 new 230-kV, double-circuit structures. As part of the project, the company would also replace conductor, shield wires, and substation equipment.
The company estimates that the total cost of the proposed rebuild project is about $26.4m, of which about $25.8m is for transmission line work and $0.6m is for substation work, the hearing examiner added.
The record establishes that the lattice towers for Lines #211 and #228, built in the 1960s using “COR-TEN,” are approaching the end of their useful service lives, and the record also demonstrates multiple system reliability risks if Lines #211 and #228 are not in service, the hearing examiner said.
“I find that the company has demonstrated reliability needs that justify a transmission system project to address the aging infrastructure on Lines #211 and #228,” the hearing examiner said.
While the heights and locations of the replacement structures within the existing right of way (ROW) may vary from the existing structures, the associated environmental impacts – negative and positive – would be mostly, if not entirely, incremental given the impacts of the existing structures, the hearing examiner said. Some new structures would be the same height or shorter than the towers they replace and the heights of the new structures are expected to fall within the same range – 100 feet to 251 feet – as the existing structures, the hearing examiner said.
The hearing examiner noted that based on the record of this case, he concludes that the route of the rebuild project would reasonably minimize adverse impact on the scenic assets, historic districts, and environment of the area concerned.
The hearing examiner also concluded that there are no adverse environmental impacts that should prevent the construction of the rebuild project. He said that the company should be required to obtain all necessary environmental permits and approvals that are needed to build and operate the rebuild project.
The hearing examiner recommended that the company comply with the summary recommendations of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) report, with the exception of the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) recommendation to which Dominion objected. As noted by the hearing examiner, the company objected to DCR’s recommendation to update the Biotics Data System database if six months have passed before the project is implemented, or the scope of work changes.
The hearing examiner recommended that the company be required to consult with DCR regarding updates to the Biotics Data System only if the scope of the rebuild project involves material changes or 12 months from the date of the commission’s final order in the proceeding pass before the rebuild project begins construction.
The hearing examiner recommended that the commission enter an order that authorizes the company to build and operate the rebuild project, subject to the findings and conditions recommended in his report.