The Virginia State Corporation Commission, in a Nov. 1 final order, said that Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia is authorized to build and operate a 230-kV rebuild project as proposed in the company’s application, subject to certain conditions.
As noted in the final order, Dominion in May filed with the commission an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to:
- Rebuild, entirely within an existing right of way (ROW), an approximately 8.2-mile section of the existing 11-mile Lines #211 and #228, which run from the company’s existing Chesterfield substation in Chesterfield County to the company’s existing Hopewell substation in the City of Hopewell
- Rebuild two structures on Lines #211 and #228 near the Chesterfield substation on company owned property
- Complete minor equipment replacements at the Chesterfield and Hopewell substations
The commission also said that the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in August filed a report that provided general recommendations for the commission’s consideration, including that the company should conduct an on-site delineation of wetlands and stream crossings within the project area with verification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, using accepted methods and procedures.
The commission further noted that a hearing examiner in September entered a report finding, for instance, that the proposed rebuild project is needed to address aging infrastructure and maintain transmission system reliability.
The commission said that it finds that the public convenience and necessity require that the company build the project.
Noting that the rebuild project will be built on existing ROWs already owned and maintained by the company, the commission said that it finds that use of the existing route will minimize adverse impacts on scenic assets and historic districts in Virginia.
Discussing demand side management (DSM), the commission noted that in another proceeding, it found that evidence that planning studies may be over-relying on demand response warranted further evaluation in future transmission CPCN proceedings. Accordingly, the commission directed Dominion to provide, in future transmission CPCN applications, more detailed analysis of DSM resources incorporated in the company’s planning studies used in support of such applications.
In the instant case, the commission added, the company’s application does not include any analysis of the DSM incorporated in those studies; instead, the company included a footnote that said that the “company did not consider [DSM] as part of this application because the rebuild project is driven by the need to replace aging, end-of-life infrastructure.”
The commission said that additional analysis of DSM’s incorporation in planning studies may be appropriate to evaluate future applications. Legislation enacted this year requires Dominion to develop a proposed program for energy efficiency measures at an aggregate cost of no less than $870m for the 10-year period beginning July 1, the commission said.
To the extent such investments occur, they could, for instance, defer or eliminate the need for some transmission infrastructure projects. The commission added that the benefit of deferred investment might not be realized if load forecasts used in load flow studies fail to incorporate, where appropriate, such DSM analysis. Consequently, additional detail on the extent to which DSM has been incorporated in planning studies may inform evaluations of the reliability needs presented to justify future transmission line applications, including for end-of-life projects.
The commission added that therefore, it again directs the company to provide more detailed analysis of DSM incorporated in planning studies used in support of future transmission CPCN applications, including rebuild projects.
The commission noted that it finds that there are no adverse environmental impacts that would prevent the construction or operation of the rebuild project. As a condition of its approval, the commission said that Dominion must comply with each of DEQ’s recommendations as provided in the DEQ report with certain exceptions – that is, the commission adopts the hearing examiner’s recommendation that the company is to consult with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation for 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 order pass before the rebuild project begins construction.
Among other things, the commission said that the rebuild project must be built and in service by Dec. 31, 2020; however, the company is granted leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.