Virginia hearing examiner recommends approval of proposed 230-kV rebuild project

Virginia State Corporation Commission Hearing Examiner Michael Thomas, in a Nov. 13 report, recommended that the commission issue to Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to build and operate the Chesterfield-Lakeside Line #217 230-kV transmission line rebuild project.

As noted in the report, Dominion Energy Virginia in May filed with the commission an application for a CPCN to:

  • Rebuild, entirely within an existing right of way (ROW) or on company owned property, about 21.3 miles of the existing 230-kV Chesterfield-Lakeside Line #217 from the company’s Chesterfield substation in Chesterfield County to the company’s Lakeside substation in Henrico County
  • Remove or replace certain structures on Chesterfield-Chickahominy Line #287 located on or near the company’s Chesterfield power station, two of which share a common structure with Chesterfield-Lakeside Line #217
  • Perform minor work at the Chesterfield and Lakeside substations

The proposed route for the rebuild project is about 21.3 miles of existing transmission line ROW currently occupied by the existing 230-kV Chesterfield-Lakeside Line #217, Thomas said, adding that the route is in Chesterfield – 0.5 mile – and Henrico – 20.8 miles – counties. The rebuild project originates in Chesterfield County at the Chesterfield substation located at the Chesterfield power station off Coxendale Road. From that power station, Thomas added, the route generally heads northeast from the station property for 0.5 mile and continues northeast into Henrico County after the line crosses the James River.

The line continues in a northeasterly direction for about 5.6 miles and then, for 2.4 miles, the line heads in a northwesterly direction before heading due north. Thomas added that the line continues in a north-northwesterly direction for 12.8 miles and terminates at the Lakeside substation in Henrico County off Hilliard Road.

The existing structures for the entire rebuild project range in height from 45 feet to 228 feet, and the proposed structures range in height from 55 feet to 228 feet. Thomas added that the existing average structure height is 63 feet, and that the proposed average structure height is 74 feet.

According to the company, the project is necessary to resolve electric generation deliverability violations identified by PJM Interconnection and to address Chesterfield-Lakeside Line #217 nearing the end of its service life.

Thomas also noted that the needed in-service date for the project is June 1, 2020, and that its estimated cost is about $31.6m – that is, about $31m for transmission line work and about $0.6m for substation work.

Thomas said that he finds that the rebuild project would have no material adverse impact on scenic assets and historic districts. Since this is a rebuild of an existing transmission line, any impacts to scenic assets or historic districts would result from materially changing the structures used to carry the line, he said. Currently, Chesterfield-Lakeside Line #217 is carried primarily on wooden H-frame structures, and the company proposes to replace those structures with weathering steel H-frame structures. Based on the proposed changes to structure heights and design, the company anticipates that the project would have no impact on historic properties that are not in the viewshed of the project, and would have a potentially minimal incremental impact on historic properties that are within the viewshed of the project, Thomas added.

He also said that based on a report by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), he finds that there are no adverse environmental impacts that would prevent the construction of the rebuild project. He said that he finds that the company’s proposed modifications to the language of recommendations by DCR and DGIF are reasonable, and that the nine recommendations in the DEQ report, two of which were modified, are “desirable or necessary to minimize adverse environmental impact” associated with the project.

DCR had recommended that the company contact “DCR to re-submit project information and a map for an update on [certain] natural heritage information if the scope of the project changes and/or six months has passed before it is utilized.”

Thomas added that the company recommended a change in the language to contact “DCR to re-submit project information and a map for an update on [certain] natural heritage information if the scope of the project materially changes and/or twelve months has passed before it is utilized.”

Also, DGIF had recommended a time-of-year restriction if colonial nesting bird colonies are located within the project area. The company would survey the project area for such colonies, but might need to have further discussions with DGIF regarding the recommendation of no significant construction activities within a 0.5-mile buffer of a colony between Feb. 15 and July 31. Thomas added that the company requested an amendment to the language of the DGIF recommendation to provide that “if colonial nesting bird colonies are found upon survey, the company and DGIF will work together to create appropriate construction restrictions.”

He also noted that commission staff made two recommendations in a report about the project, including that the company submit a semiannual report to staff that provided an overview of its transmission line maintenance activities completed over the previous six months and transmission line maintenance activities planned during the next six months, as well as how those activities support any known, future upgrades on those lines.

The company did not oppose submitting a report but asked that the report be annual; the company and staff agreed to an annual reporting format. Thomas added that he finds the company’s responses to those recommendations were reasonable.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.