A Virginia State Corporation Commission hearing examiner, in a March 18 report, recommended – subject to certain conditions – that the commission approve Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion Energy) application concerning the company’s proposed Fudge Hollow-Low Moor Line #112 and East Mill-Low Moor Line #161 138-kV Transmission Line Partial Rebuild.
As noted in the report, Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion Energy) in August 2018 filed with the commission an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to build and operate electric transmission facilities in Alleghany County, Va., and the City of Covington, Va.
In its application, the company stated that in order to maintain the structural integrity and reliability of its transmission system in compliance with mandatory NERC Reliability Standards, the company proposes to:
- Rebuild, entirely within existing transmission right of way (ROW), Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) ROW, or on company owned property, about 1.4 miles of the existing 138-kV overhead transmission Lines #112 and #161, which are collocated primarily on steel towers running from the company’s existing Fudge Hollow station to the existing Covington substation
- Rebuild three existing structures between the Covington substation and the Line #112 and Line #161 Junction, entirely within existing ROW
- Rebuild, entirely within existing ROW, about 3.9 miles of the existing 138-kV overhead transmission Line #112 on steel towers running from the Line #112 and Line #161 Junction to the Line #112 and Line #133 Junction
- Replace existing shield wire within the entire existing 7.3-mile, 138-kV, overhead transmission corridor between the company’s existing Fudge Hollow and Low Moor substations, which contains Line #112 and a segment of Line #161 and Line #133, with one fiber optic shield wire, which would facilitate company network telecommunications between the Fudge Hollow substation and Low Moor substation
- Perform minor work at the existing Fudge Hollow, Covington, and Low Moor substations, including conductor and connector replacement
The hearing examiner also noted that the company said that it would replace 33 steel lattice structures, which have experienced severe corrosion at grade and their foundations are no longer considered dependable.
Dominion Energy contended that portions of Fudge Hollow-Low Moor Line #112 and East Mill-Low Moor Line #161 are nearing the end of life, so that the rebuild project is necessary to maintain the overall long-term reliability of its transmission system.
The hearing examiner also said that the uncontested evidence presented in the case shows that many of the steel structures proposed to be replaced through the rebuild project have been in service since the 1920s; have experienced severe corrosion at grade and in their foundations below grade; and are no longer considered dependable. Based on that and other evidence, “I find that Dominion Energy has established that the rebuild project is needed,” the hearing examiner said.
Among other things, the hearing examiner noted that VOF recommended that the H-frame structures located between the Line #112 and Line #161 Junction and the Line #112 and Line #133 Junction be made of weathering steel, shaded brown in color. VOF also advocated for those structures to use chemically dulled steel for cross arms and cross braces, rather than the proposed galvanized steel.
The hearing examiner added that according to the company, its approved fabricators of those structure components do not have chemical dulling capabilities; the company plans to purchase those components about 12 months in advance of their installation and store them outdoors, so they would have an opportunity to naturally weather before they are installed.
Regulatory staff noted that it had no reason to dispute Dominion Energy’s assertion that the company it purchases the specific components from do not have the capability to chemically dull, nor does staff dispute that the transmission structures are likely to have begun to achieve some level of natural dulling during the one year between purchase and actual installation.
The hearing examiner added, “Based on the record, I conclude that the H-frame structures, as proposed by the company, should be used in the rebuild project.”
Among other things, the hearing examiner said that Dominion should be required to consult with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) regarding updates to the Biotics Data System only if the scope of the rebuild project involves material changes or 12 months from the date of the commission’s final order in this proceeding pass before construction of the rebuild project begins.
According to the company, the estimated conceptual cost of the rebuild project is about $11.3m, which includes $11m for transmission-related work and $0.3m for substation-related work (2018 dollars). The hearing examiner also said that the company requested that the commission issue a final order by April 30 so that construction may begin on Jan. 1, 2020, and be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.