Hearing examiner recommends approval of Dominion’s 230-kV rebuild project, subject to conditions

A senior hearing examiner, in a Jan. 25 report, recommended that the Virginia State Corporation Commission approve Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion) application regarding the proposed Lanexa-Northern Neck Line #224 230-kV Transmission Line Partial Rebuild Projects, subject to certain conditions.

As noted in the report, Dominion in June 2018 filed an application seeking approval of its request to rebuild four separate segments of its existing Lanexa-Northern Neck Line – that is, the removal and replacement of:

  • Nine structures and foundations spanning the Pamunkey River and crossing adjacent tidal marshlands (Pamunkey River Rebuild)
  • Seven structures and foundations spanning the Mattaponi River and crossing adjacent tidal marshlands (Mattaponi River Rebuild)
  • Two double-circuit “COR-TEN” lattice structures and two adjacent wood H-frame structures and foundations crossing I-64 in New Kent County (I-64 Rebuild)
  • One double-circuit “COR-TEN” lattice structure and foundation with two double dead-end 2-pole structures and foundations (Diascund Rebuild)

In late November 2018, Dominion filed a letter representing that it was withdrawing its request for the approval of two of the rebuild projects – namely, the I-64 Rebuild and the Diascund Rebuild. The report added the company stated at that time that while it continued to believe “the rebuild of the structures in these areas is needed, it also believes that postponing their rebuild for approximately three years is acceptable.

In direct testimony, Dominion said that the rebuild project consists of rebuilding, entirely within existing right of way (ROW), four separate segments of Dominion’s existing Lanexa-Northern Neck Line #224 230-kV transmission line in King and Queen, King William, and New Kent counties. Dominion said that the rebuild was necessary to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of its transmission system.

The report added that commission staff, in a report evaluating the Pamunkey and Mattaponi River Rebuilds (River Rebuilds), noted that the Pamunkey River Rebuild costs $13.9m and that the Mattaponi River Rebuild costs $12.5m. In staff’s assessment, Dominion reasonably demonstrated that the River Rebuilds, except for the proposed installation of an idle conductor and associated hardware (Idle Conductor Facilities) as part of the Pamunkey River Rebuild, are necessary for the continued provision of reliable electrical service.

The report also said that staff agreed with Dominion’s proposed routing and structure types as a means of minimizing the impact of the River Rebuilds to environmental, historic, and scenic resources. Staff opposed the inclusion of the Idle Conductor Facilities to accommodate the possibility of a future 230-kV circuit because the need for those facilities and the date upon which they may become necessary are uncertain. The report added that staff maintained that Dominion’s estimate of $2.6m as the cost of installing the Idle Conductor Facilities in the future, as compared to a current cost of $484,000, is not supported by adequate cost information. Staff further recommended the chemical dulling of the galvanized steel structures proposed for the River Rebuilds to limit their visual impact.

Dominion responded to staff’s concerns regarding the company’s proposal to include the Idle Conductor Facilities as part of the Pamunkey River Rebuild, noting that while Dominion took no formal position regarding staff’s concerns, the company anticipates load loss for Line #2083 and Line #224 to exceed 300 MW at some point during the life expectancy of the Pamunkey River Rebuild, thereby constituting a NERC reliability violation if action is not taken.

Dominion further noted that it presented its proposal for the rebuild of the remainder of Line #224 (Remainder Project), including the I-64 and Diascund Rebuilds initially proposed for approval in this case, to PJM Interconnection in December 2018. The report added that the company expects PJM to vote for final approval of the Remainder Project in February.

The company also explained that its cost estimate of $2.6m includes about $520,000 for engineering, permitting, and remobilization; about $1.5m for the installation and removal of access facilities to support construction activities; about $457,000 for contractor labor; and about $100,000 for project oversight. Some of those costs may be incurred whether or not the Idle Conductor Facilities are installed as part of the Pamunkey River Rebuild, but about $1.5m would be incurred to install and remove the access facilities needed for completion of the Pamunkey River Rebuild and such costs would be duplicated if the company must return to install the Idle Conductor Facilities at some point in the future.

The report also said that the evidence reflects that there is a need to complete the River Rebuilds – except for the installation of the Idle Conductor Facilities – to replace deteriorating infrastructure and comply with NERC reliability standards. The evidence also shows that the River Rebuilds would have no material adverse effect upon the reliability of electric service and are not otherwise contrary to the public interest, according to the report. Under the circumstances, except for the proposed installation of the Idle Conductor Facilities, the hearing examiner concludes that the company established that the River Rebuilds are required by the public convenience and necessity.

However, the report added, the hearing examiner said that the company has not established a sufficient basis for the installation of the Idle Conductor Facilities as part of the Pamunkey River Rebuild. Even if those facilities were to become necessary at some point in the future, their service life is likely to be shortened, thereby lessening any potential benefit of installing them early, the report added.

The hearing examiner also concluded that the galvanized steel lattice structures used in the River Rebuilds should be chemically dulled to lessen the visual impact of a new galvanized finish on scenic assets and historic districts.

Among other things, the report added that the hearing examiner recommends that the commission should require the galvanized steel lattice towers used in the River Rebuilds to be chemically dulled; should issue a CPCN for the completion of the River Rebuilds; and should not require the company to comply with the time-of-use year restriction proposed by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) but, instead, should require the company to coordinate with DGIF to develop project-specific measures to minimize impacts upon wildlife resources.

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.