Virginia State Corporation Commission staff, in a Jan. 23 report filed with the commission, said that it does not oppose issuing a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia for the company’s proposed Fudge Hollow-Low Moor Line #112 and East Mill-Low Moor Line #161 138-kV Transmission Line Partial Rebuild project.
Staff said that it “concludes that the company has reasonably demonstrated that rebuilding portions of its existing 138 kV Fudge Hollow-Low Moor Line #112 and East Mill-Low Moor Line #161 as proposed is necessary to continue providing reliable electric transmission service in the area. Additionally, constructing the rebuild project entirely in existing [right of way, or] ROW on structures that are, on average, approximately 3 feet shorter than existing structures appears to minimize impact on environmental and historic resources.”
As noted in the report, the company in August 2018 filed an application with the commission requesting approval and a CPCN to build and operate electric transmission facilities in the County of Alleghany and the City of Covington in Virginia.
The company proposes to rebuild, entirely within existing ROW that has been in use since the 1920s, certain portions of two 138-kV transmission lines:
- Its Fudge Hollow-Low Moor Line #112, which runs between the existing Fudge Hollow substation and the existing Low Moor substation, both in Alleghany County
- Its East Mill-Low Moor Line #161, which runs between the existing East Mill substation in Alleghany County and the Low Moor substation
Specifically, staff added, the company proposes to:
- Rebuild a 1.4-mile segment of both lines between the Fudge Hollow and Covington substations, where the Fudge Hollow Line and the East Mill Line are collocated on double-circuit structures
- Rebuild a 3.9-mile segment of the Fudge Hollow Line between the point where the Fudge Hollow Line and East Mill Line diverge from common structures – the Fudge Hollow/East Mill Junction – and the point where the Fudge Hollow Line and the company’s 138-kV Line #133 diverge from common structures – the Fudge Hollow/Line #133 Junction
- Replace two structures between the Covington substation and the Fudge Hollow/East Mill Junction, and one on the East Mill Line immediately beyond the Fudge Hollow/East Mill Junction
- Replace one existing shield wire along the 7.3-mile span of the Fudge Hollow Line with a fiber-optic shield wire (OPGW)
- Perform minor work at the Fudge Hollow, Covington, and Low Moor substations, including conductor and connector replacement
According to the company, the commission said, the rebuild project is needed because portions of the lines are nearing their end of life. The company asserts that the rebuild project is needed in order to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of the company’s transmission system in compliance with mandatory NERC reliability standards.
The commission added according to the company, about 5.3 miles of the existing 7.3-mile Fudge Hollow Line, including about 1.4 miles of double-circuit structures where the Fudge Hollow Line is collocated with the East Mill Line, utilize steel lattice structures dating from the 1920s that have experienced severe corrosion at grade and in their foundations below grade, and are no longer considered dependable.
The company also said that industry guidelines indicate a useful service life of 40-60 years for line conductor and connectors, and 50 years for porcelain insulators, and therefore that those components of the lines are beyond their useful service life.
Staff added that the company asserts that the failure of a double-circuit structure supporting both lines would cause a loss of both lines, which would then lead to a loss of load at the Covington substation, which would cause a loss of electric supply to the 9,186 customers served directly from that substation, as well as the company’s Lines #14, #155, and #109.
Staff said that it “agrees that the structures subject to the rebuild project are no longer in serviceable condition. Furthermore, the staff agrees that the lines are needed to provide reliable electrical service in the area. The staff therefore agrees with the stated need for the rebuild project.”
Among other things, staff noted that there are certain species on the federal and Virginia threatened and endangered species list that may occur within the vicinity of the rebuild project. The Indiana bat, the Northern long-eared bat, and the Appalachian grizzled skipper have been identified as potentially occurring in the project’s vicinity. Staff added that the James spinymussel, the Little brown bat, and the Tri-colored bat have been observed within a two-mile radius of the rebuild project area. The company states that it will coordinate with applicable agencies to avoid and minimize impact to listed species, staff said.
Staff noted that Dominion states that its desired in-service date for the rebuild project is Dec. 31, 2020, and that, assuming a CPCN is granted by April 30, 2019, the company would be able to begin construction on Jan. 1, 2020, and complete construction by Dec. 31, 2020.
Dominion estimates a cost of $11.3m for the rebuild project, including about $11m for transmission-related work and $0.3m for substation-related work (all 2018 dollars), staff said.