The Virginia State Corporation Commission, in a Dec. 3 final order, authorized Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion) to build and operate the 230-kV Landstown-Thrasher Line #231 project in the City of Virginia Beach and the City of Chesapeake, subject to certain conditions.
As noted in the order, the company sought approval to:
- Rebuild, entirely within existing right of way (ROW) or on company owned property, about 8.5 miles of the existing 230-kV, overhead, single-circuit transmission Line #231 on double-circuit structures
- Replace 230-kV switches and perform minor conduit work at the Landstown and Stumpy Lake substations
- Perform minor conduit work at the Thrasher substation
Line #231 runs from the company’s existing Landstown substation in the City of Virginia Beach to the company’s existing Thrasher substation in the City of Chesapeake, the order added.
Dominion represents that the project is necessary to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of its transmission system in compliance with NERC reliability standards. The order added that the company also represents that the project will replace aging infrastructure that is at the end of its service life to comply with the company’s transmission planning criteria, thereby enabling the company to maintain the overall long-term reliability of its transmission system.
Dominion anticipates a Dec. 30, 2020 in-service date for the project, and that the project will cost about $19m, which includes $18.5m for transmission-related work and $0.5m for substation-related work.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, in a September report, issued certain recommendations concerning the project, including that the company conduct an on-site delineation of all wetlands and stream crossings within the project area with verification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The order also noted that regulatory staff, in an October report, did not oppose the company’s request for the commission to issue the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) necessary for the project.
The company, in its November rebuttal, took issue with, for instance, the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (DGIF) recommendation that the company “conduct significant tree removal and ground clearing activities outside of the primary songbird nesting season of March 15 through August 15.”
Dominion requested that the commission “amend the language of the DGIF recommendation to provide that if primary songbird nesting colonies are found upon survey, the company will coordinate with DGIF to create appropriate construction restrictions.”
The commission noted that the record supports that the project is needed to comply with NERC reliability standards and so that the company can continue to provide reliable electric service to customers served in the Virginia Beach area.
The commission also said that the project appears to minimize impact on existing residences, scenic assets, historic districts, and the environment.
The commission said that the company must comply with DEQ’s recommendations, with the exception of a recommendation by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) that calls for the company to resubmit project information and a map for an update on natural heritage information if “the scope of the [P]roject changes and/or six months has passed before [natural heritage information] is utilized[,]” and DGIF’s recommendation to “[c]onduct significant tree removal and ground clearing activities outside of the primary songbird nesting season of March 15 and August 15.”
Instead, the commission said, the company is to consult with DCR for updates to the Biotics Data System only if the scope of the project materially changes or 12 months from the date of the commission’s final order in the matter pass before the project begins construction. Further, Dominion is to survey the project area for songbird nesting colonies and coordinate with DGIF to create appropriate construction restrictions, the commission said.
Among other things, the commission said that the project must be built and in service by Jan. 30, 2021; however, the company is granted leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.