Virginia regulators: Dominion’s proposed substation project requires CPCN

The Virginia State Corporation Commission, in a Nov. 15 order, said that it finds that a substation project proposed by Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion) is not an “ordinary extension[] or improvement[] in the usual course of business” and therefore requires a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN).

As noted in the order, Dominion on Oct. 30 petitioned the commission for a declaration as to whether the company is required to amend or obtain CPCNs for the new substation project located in Fluvanna County, Va.

In the alternative, the company seeks approval and amended certification of such project. The commission added that concurrently with the filing, the company filed a motion for interim authority to begin substation pre-construction activities, and for expedited consideration.

The new substation would be located 1.5 miles from the Bremo power station (Fork Union substation). The commission also said that as part of that effort, the company seeks to cut in the Bremo-Cunningham Line #5, Bremo-Sherwood Line #91, and Bremo Charlottesville Line #2028 (Line Cut-In) into the proposed new Fork Union substation – collectively, referred to as the project.

According to Dominion, in total, the proposed project involves the removal of five transmission structures and the installation of 15 new transmission structures. The heights of the five existing structures to be removed range from 50 feet to 88 feet, with an average height of 68 feet. The proposed structure heights range from 50 feet to 135 feet, with an average height of 84 feet, the commission added.

Collectively, the Line Cut-In entails a total increase of 0.2 mile of transmission line. Lines #5, #91, and #2028, according to Dominion, are parallel transmission lines co-located in the same existing right of way (ROW). The commission added that the transmission lines originate adjacent to Bremo Power Station Units 3 and 4, and run along the same corridor for about 2.3 miles before splitting at a junction near Route 15. The Fork Union substation would be located entirely on company owned property and, as a result, no new ROW is necessary for the proposed project.

According to the company, the proposed project is needed to resolve potential violations of NERC reliability standards related to the deactivation and cold storage of the company’s Bremo Power Station Units 3 and 4. Specifically, the commission added, the proposed project would address potential NERC violations by providing a long-term solution with the introduction of a new 115-kV network source to serve the Gordonsville load area.

Dominion estimates the conceptual cost of the proposed project to be about $27.2m, including $5.4m for transmission-related work and $21.8m for substation-related work (2018 dollars).

The commission also noted that the company seeks an in-service date for the proposed project of Nov. 30, 2019, as well as a final order in the matter by March 1, 2019, that either declares that the project is an “ordinary extension[] or improvement[] in the usual course of business” under Code § 56-265.2 A.1 that does not require approval from the commission, or in the alternative, approves the project and grants the requested original or amended CPCNs, as needed.

The commission said that it finds that:

  • The matter should be docketed, Dominion should provide public notice of the application
  • A procedural schedule should be established to allow interested persons an opportunity to file written or electronic comments and to request a hearing on the application
  • Interested persons should have an opportunity to participate in the proceeding as a respondent
  • Regulatory staff should be directed to investigate the application and file a report containing its findings and recommendations
  • A hearing examiner should be appointed to rule on any discovery issues that may arise over the course of the proceeding

The commission said that its finding that the project is an ordinary extension or improvement in the usual course of business is strictly limited to the evidence in the application, including that the proposed project requires the installation of a new substation; the proposed project requires the removal of five transmission structures and the installation of 15 new transmission structures; and such structures are, on average, 20% taller than the existing structures.

The commission also noted that its determination cannot be relied upon as precedent for any facility that a public utility may plan to build in the future.

The commission further stated that it grants Dominion’s motion for interim authority and request for expedited consideration.

“As we have stated in precedent and as Dominion recognizes, the company undertakes the preliminary pre-construction efforts described in its motion at its own risk prior to commission consideration of the underlying project,” the commission said.

Among other things, the commission said that the company is to file by Dec. 4 testimony and an appendix in support of its application.

By Dec. 11, the company is to publish in two successive weeks a notice, as well as sketch map showing the location of the proposed project.

The commission added that that notice is to note, in part, that:

  • The new Fork Union substation would be built on a 27-acre parcel owned by the company in Fluvanna County. That property is located about 0.7-mile south of the intersection of James Madison Highway (Route 15) and Cedar Wood Lane. The parcel generally is located on and around an existing company owned 250-foot-wide ROW, where three existing transmission lines are located. The new substation would consist of typical substation equipment to include on 230/115-kV, 224 megavolt-amperes power transformer and four backbone structures that range from 70 feet to 95 feet in height. All but four of the 15 new transmission structures would be located on company owned property, with the remaining four structures to be located within an existing transmission ROW corridor

Any interested person may file written comments on the application with the commission by Jan. 8, 2019. The commission also said that its staff is to file its report by Jan. 29, 2019.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.