Federal Regulators Want Public’s Input on Proposed James River Power Line

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The green line across the James River represents where the over-river line would be built. The blue line represents another proposed line that would run from James City County to Hampton. (Photo courtesy Dominion Virginia Power)
The green line across the James River represents where the over-river line would be built. The blue line represents another proposed line that would run from James City County to Hampton. (Photo courtesy Dominion Virginia Power)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to know what the public thinks about how a power line proposed to cross the James River near Carter’s Grove might affect historic properties and of any changes the public would recommend to the project.

The call for the feedback went out last week.

USACE is reviewing Dominion Virginia Power’s application to build the line across the James River, which would originate at a point near the Hog Island State Waterfowl Refuge in Surry County and cross the river on 17 latticed metal towers up to 295 feet tall. The line would come ashore near Carter’s Grove.

The proposed line has attracted strong opposition from historic preservation groups and from James City County. They believe the line would mar vistas along the James River, as it would be visible at Carter’s Grove, Kingsmill and the eastern tip of Jamestown Island.

Dominion Virginia Power says the line is needed to ensure the Peninsula’s electric grid has enough power. Federal regulations require the utility to shut down the coal-fired Yorktown power plant by April 2017, so if the line is not in place by then, Peninsula customers may be forced to deal with power outages up to 80 days per year.

The utility says the route it wants is the only cost-effective option to build the line. It has issued a lengthy rebuttal of several commonly suggested alternative routes, available here.

USACE is one of two hurdles the line must clear before construction can begin. It also needs a permit from James City County to build a switching station near Skiffes Creek. The line would connect to the station, which would connect to the Peninsula’s power grid. The utility filed preliminary paperwork with the county announcing it was seeking the permit last week.

USACE has generated a complete list of historic properties that would be affected by the line and has posted several maps of the proposed route here.

Comments can be made to USACE in writing and sent to the following address:

Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers
(ATTN: CENAO-WRR-S, Randy Steffey)
803 Front Street
Norfolk, Va. 23510

They can also be emailed to randy.l.steffey@usace.army.mil.

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