Dominion, SCC Seek Supreme Court Rehearing of Power Line Decision

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

A simulated view of the over-river power line from the Kingsmill area. (Photo courtesy Dominion)
A simulated view of the over-river power line from the Kingsmill area. (Photo courtesy Dominion)

Dominion Virginia Power and the State Corporation Commission have asked the Virginia Supreme Court to reconsider its decision about a power line proposed to cross the James River near Carter’s Grove.

The court ruled earlier this month the route for the proposed line is acceptable but that James City County has the final say over whether the utility may build a switching station in Grove.

The county was one of the parties that appealed to the court to reverse the SCC’s decision approving the proposed route, so the court’s decision has left the fate of a fundamental part of the project in the county’s hands. In documents filed with the court Monday, Dominion and the SCC have asked the court to rehear the matter.

The proposed line, which would connect a switching station near the Surry Nuclear Power Station to the Peninsula’s power network, has been the subject of a prolonged legal battle. The utility and state regulators from the SCC are on one side, while a host of historical preservation groups, James City County and a German chemical company that owns the land where the line would come ashore oppose the project.

That disagreement culminated with a trip to the Supreme Court of Virginia in January. The coalition opposed to the line believe that the utility did not adequately consider other routes and that the proposed route would have an adverse effect on view sheds at historical sites including Carter’s Grove plantation, the Colonial Parkway and Jamestown Island.

The utility and the SCC maintain the preferred route is the only viable option for the line, which is necessary to maintain the stability of the power network on the Peninsula.

While the court’s decision affirmed the route for the line, it said James City County has zoning authority over the land where the utility needs to build a switching station to connect the new line to the existing power network.

State law and the rules that govern the court authorize parties that argue before it to appeal for a rehearing.

In order for the rehearing to occur, at least one of the justices who opposed the utility and SCC in the original ruling must agree there is sufficient cause for a rehearing. If approved, the court may ask the utility and SCC to file briefs outlining their positions. It could also decide that further oral argument is necessary.

Along with the court case, the utility is also waiting on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the proposed route. USACE has not publicly said when it plans to finish its review of Dominion’s application.

The SCC is a state regulatory agency that oversees utilities in Virginia.

Related Coverage: