Thursday, September 29, 2022

Court denies Dominion’s plea to rehear case after power line permit vacated

The Skiffes Creek transmission project was energized on Tuesday despite awaiting the results of an appeal to stop the project. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)
The Skiffes Creek transmission project was energized in February despite awaiting the results of an appeal to stop the project. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)

A judge denied a plea from Dominion Energy to rehear its case Friday, nearly three months after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the Skiffes Creek Transmission Line permit was given outside of the law.

The case will now move back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings relating to the status of Dominion’s permit, Preservation Virginia wrote in a news release.

On March 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled the Army Corps of Engineers failed to follow federal legal requirements when they awarded Dominion a permit to build a 17-tower transmission line.

The permit was vacated and the court ordered the Army Corps prepare an Environmental Impact Study, which the court ruled was supposed to be completed ahead of construction.

Whether that permit should be revoked at the impact study is completed, however, is an issue the U.S. District Court must now address.

“With our coalition and partners, we have advocated for almost six years, that the law required an Environmental Impact Statement to fully examine alternatives to preserve the integrity of America’s Founding River. Coming weeks before we honor the history-changing events that occurred at Jamestown, the Court’s decision affirms the necessity of a thorough approach,” said Elizabeth Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia.

RELATED STORY: Appeals court rules Dominion power line permit given outside of the law

The power line has been active since late February.

The power line project had been met with apprehension and opposition for years from various groups in the area, including National Parks Conservation Association, Preservation Virginia and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Dominion has said the 500,000-volt line is crucial to avoid rolling blackouts on the Virginia Peninsula. Some of the towers are as tall as 295 feet and carry power from Dominion’s Surry County nuclear plant to lower James City County.

Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Billingsly Harris released a prepared statement in response to Friday’s denial: “The D.C. Circuit Court’s decision is good news for our customers who live and work on the Peninsula.

We are pleased that the D.C. Circuit agreed with the Army Corps and Dominion Energy to send this case back to the District Court to review in detail whether the Corps permit for the Skiffes Creek transmission line should be revoked while the Corps performs the Environmental Impact Statement.

It’s critical that we maintain electric reliability for the Virginia Peninsula.  Keeping the existing transmission line energized while the Environmental Impact Statement is prepared is the responsible thing to do and provides safe, reliable power for the 600,000 people who live and work on the Peninsula.”

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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