Friday, June 14, 2024

Army Corps OKs Skiffes Creek project with conditions

A simulated view of the Skiffes Creek project from the Kingsmill Resort area. (Courtesy Dominion Power.)

The United States Army Corps of Engineers gave Dominion Energy’s Surry-Skiffes Creek Connector a conditional go-ahead Tuesday.

The permit represents a crucial development for the project, which has been in the works for nearly five years and faced intense public scrutiny.

The project aims to construct multiple 500kV transmission lines over the James River to provide better “electrical reliability” to the Peninsula, according to Dominion Energy.

Previously, Dominion Energy has alluded to the possibility of rolling blackouts if the project is not constructed. Detractors of the project have said it will destroy the area’s historical and cultural heritage.

On Monday, Dominion Energy was sent a “provisional initial proffered permit” by the Norfolk District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Norfolk District Chief of Public Affairs Mark Haviland.

“The ball’s basically in their court,” Haviland said.

The conditional permit issued Monday is the permit Dominion needs to construct the project, according to Haviland. Dominion needs to meet several conditions before the permit is permanent and the project can begin.

Dominion Energy will still need to receive a permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, a water quality certification from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and a permit from the James City County Board of Supervisors to allow for a switching station in the county.

The permitting process for both the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and James City County Board of Supervisors will require public hearings, according to Harris.

Dominion Energy spokeswoman Bonita Harris said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision was positive movement. 

“It’s not everything we wanted, but it’s a big step in the right direction,” Harris said.

The project and associated permitting processes are “complicated,” according to Harris.

“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Harris said. “We still have a lot of work to do before we have a final permit.”

Construction of the project will take about a year and half once the permitting process is finished, Harris said.

Before construction can begin, Dominion Energy will need to meet the requirements of a Memorandum of Agreement with all other parties including localities, nonprofits, and individuals.

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