RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has
approved a request by Dominion Virginia Power to build new high voltage electric
transmission lines from Surry County to the city of Hampton. The project includes
an overhead crossing of the James River.
In its final order, the SCC wrote, “The Commission understands the importance of
this case to the many people who cherish Virginia’s historical and natural assets
and to those who depend on the reliable electric service so critical to Virginia’s
economic strength, safety, and quality of life.” The SCC found that based on the
record of the case, the routes chosen for the project reasonably minimize adverse
impact on scenic assets, historic districts and resources, and the environment.
Under the Code of Virginia, the SCC must determine whether the public convenience
and necessity require the construction of transmission lines in the Commonwealth.
“Ultimately, the Commission must base its decision on the law as applied to the
factual record of the case. That is what we have done …” The Commission added that,
“The evidence is clear that the proposed project is necessary to continue reliable
electric service to the hundreds of thousands of people who live and work across
this broad region of Virginia.”
The first segment of the project will be a new overhead 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission
line between a Dominion switching station in Surry County and a new switching station
at Skiffes Creek in James City County. From the Skiffes Creek switching station,
a new 230-kV transmission line will be constructed through James City and York counties,
Newport News, and ending at the Whealton substation in Hampton.
The SCC said that the engineering evidence is overwhelming that as a result of generation
retirements prompted by stricter federal environmental regulations and normal continued
load growth in the North Hampton Roads Area, an overhead 500-kV transmission line
needs to be constructed soon to ensure that a large part of the Commonwealth continues
to have reliable electric service.
“The Commission can no more ignore the severity of fast-approaching reliability
problems than it can the environmental, scenic, and historic impacts associated
with the many different possible alternatives explored in this case for addressing
those problems,” the SCC wrote. “In this case, the risks associated with the construction
of a lower voltage project, either underground or overhead, or other alternatives
that do not include a 500-kV overhead transmission line, are simply too great. Were
lesser transmission options, for example, approved herein, the record demonstrates
that reliable electric service would be compromised to a degree that is unacceptable
anywhere in the Commonwealth ...”
Case Number PUE-2012-00029
View Final Order