Dominion Seeks Extension of Power Line Construction Deadline

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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)

With a long-set New Year’s Eve deadline looming and construction yet to begin on a switching station or transmission facilities, Dominion Virginia Power is seeking more time to bring new power generation to the Peninsula.

Stephen Watts of McGuire Woods submitted a motion on Dominion’s behalf Dec. 1 requesting the date of completion and placement in service of the proposed project, which includes a transmission line over the James River, be moved to a date 20 months after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves the project’s building permit.

In an email to WYDaily, Bonita Billingsley Harris, Dominion’s media and community relations manager, wrote Dominion is looking to complete construction of its proposed project within a 16- to 18-month time frame. A period of 20 months would provide flexibility in the event of inclement weather, Harris wrote.

The project includes the proposed Surry-Skiffes Creek 500 kilovolt (kV) line, the Skiffes Creek Switching Station, the Skiffes Creek-Whealton 230kV line and additional transmission facilities.

The deadline of Dec. 31, 2015 was set in February 2014 as part of a modified order issued by the State Corporation Commission that approved the construction and operation of the proposed transmission lines.

Dominion states it cannot meet the Dec. 31 deadline because the Army Corps has yet to make a decision on the project building permit.

The motion states the Army Corps could announce a decision on the permit application after a comment period concludes for a Memorandum of Agreement among Dominion, the Army Corps, the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Completion of the memorandum, which pertains to mitigation of the project’s effects on cultural properties and the environment, would begin this month at the earliest, the motion states. The comment period would last 30 days.

Dominion will also need authorization by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and rezoning granted by the James City County Board of Supervisors for the Skiffes Creek Switching Station to begin construction. Both bodies have expressed an interest in seeing the Army Corps’ outcome before taking action.

The Board of Supervisors voted last night to accept Dominion’s request to defer the rezoning hearing as well as decisions on a height waiver request and special use permit to the Feb. 8, 2016 regular meeting.

The SCC responded Dec. 4 with an order that temporarily suspended the Dec. 31 deadline and set Dec. 14 as the due date for responses to Dominion’s motion and Dec. 21 as the due date for Dominion to reply to those responses.

Harris wrote Dominion anticipates the SCC will decide on the motion shortly after the conclusion of its Dec. 21 reply deadline.

Dominion is concurrently seeking an administrative order from the Environmental Protection Agency that would allow Dominion to keep its two coal-burning plants at the Yorktown Power Station online through June 1, 2017.

Harris wrote Dominion should know by next April, the current closure date for the plants, if the waiver of non-compliance will be granted.

Harris wrote Dominion is working diligently to prevent rolling blackouts on the Peninsula in the event that the waiver is not granted and the Yorktown plants shut down before new power generation is online.

She noted years of collaboration with state and federal regulators, the consideration of dozens of alternatives and efforts to “harden” the system to reduce the risk of outages as examples of work taking place to prevent blackouts.

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