Virginia DEQ issues recommendations concerning Appalachian Power’s proposed 138-kV project

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on March 1 said that if the Virginia State Corporation Commission decides to grant to Appalachian Power Company a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for a proposed 138-kV project, then the company should conduct an on-site delineation of wetlands and streams within the project area with verification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As noted in the filing, Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) is proposing to build the Glendale Area Improvements 138-kV Transmission Project, which consists of a new overhead, 138-kV electric transmission line, a new substation, and related improvements to reinforce the electric reliability for customers in the City of Galax, as well as parts of Carroll and Grayson counties.

The project entails:

  • The new, two-mile, double-circuit, 138-kV line – the Wolf Glade 138-kV Extension
  • The new 0.5-mile, double-circuit, 69-kV transmission line – the Relocated Cliffview 69-kV Tap
  • The new Wolf Glade 138-kV substation

The filing added that the existing Cliffview 69-kV Tap currently terminates at the Cliffview substation and must be extended and relocated to terminate at the proposed Wolf Glade substation. The Wolf Glade 138-kV Extension commences at the existing Jubal Early-Piper’s Gap 138-kV Transmission Line and will terminate at the proposed Wolf Glade 138-kV substation. The filing also noted that the proposed Wolf Glade 138-kV substation would be built on a 16.7-acre parcel owned by Appalachian Power and located at 130 Jack Guynn Drive in Galax, Va., and northwest of the existing Cliffview 69-kV substation. Related transmission improvements at Appalachian Power’s existing Jubal Early and Huffman substations would be included as part of the project.

The filing also noted that tree clearing and pre-construction activities for the Wolf Glade 138-kV substation, the Wolf Glade 138-kV Extension, and the Relocated Cliffview 69-kV Tap are expected to begin in late 2019, with the goal of placing the project in service by December 2021.

As noted in the filing, according to the DEQ-Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection (OWSP), wetland areas and stream corridors were identified within the 100-foot right of way (ROW) of three proposed routes – Alternative Route A, Route B (the proposed route), and Alternative C for the Wolf Glad 138-kV extension – based on the review of an October 2018 wetland desktop report prepared for Appalachian Power by POWER Engineers, Inc.

Based on its review of the wetland desktop report, the DEQ-OWSP recommended Alternative Route C as the preferred alternative in its Dec. 11, 2018, response to Appalachian Power. The filing added that the DEQ-OWSP also recommends that structures should be sited to avoid wetlands to the extent practicable and should be sited outside of stream channels.

Discussing natural heritage resources, the filing noted that the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage (DCR-DNH) confirms that the Kanawha minnow has been historically documented in Chestnut Creek, and that threats to the Kanawha minnow include pollution, habitat alteration, and agricultural runoff.

The DCR recommends, for instance, the implementation of, and strict adherence to, applicable state and local erosion and sediment control, as well as stormwater management laws and regulations, to minimize adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem as a result of the proposed activities.

The filing also noted that the DGIF recommends Appalachian Power coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding potential impacts upon federal-listed threatened northern long-eared bat associated with tree removal.

Of conservation easements, the filing noted, for instance, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) recommends that the proposed line structures be made of weathering steel, shaded brown in color, and to have a height that is shorter than, or that closely resembles, the existing structure heights found throughout the project to the extent possible. The VOF also advocates for those structures to use chemically dulled steel for davit arms where galvanized steel is planned, the filing said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3059 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.