Story by Corina Rivera-Linares, Chief Anaylst, Transmission Hub

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) authorized Dominion Energy Virginia to build and operate electric transmission facilities in Charles City and Prince George counties in Virginia. As noted in the SCC's June final order, the company proposes to rebuild, within the existing right of way, a nearly 0.99-mile portion of its existing 500-kV Chickahominy-Surry Line No. 567, where the transmission line crosses the James River between Charles City County and Prince George County. The portion of Line No. 567 that the company proposes to rebuild includes a nearly 0.79-mile river crossing, with the remaining 0.2 mile of the rebuild project on the riverbanks, the SCC said.

The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in February filed a report with the SCC that contained recommendations including, the company should coordinate with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding potential project impacts to the Atlantic sturgeon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Bald Eagle Concentration Zone, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regarding its general recommendations to protect wildlife resources.

The SCC further noted that on March 14 its staff filed testimony, concluding that the company had reasonably demonstrated the need for the proposed project and that the proposed routing in existing right of ways reasonably minimizes impact to environmental, historic and scenic resources. Staff also indicated that if the SCC determines that the company should mitigate the visual impact of the galvanized steel replacement structures for the rebuild project, chemical dulling of the structures may be a reasonable and cost-effective method for doing so.

The company on March 30 filed rebuttal testimony, stating that it generally agrees with staff's overall conclusions; explaining why its estimated cost of the project increased from about $10.9 million to $36.7 million; requesting that the SCC not require the use of chemically dulled structures for the project; addressing the company's prior and future outreach activities to the landowners in the project's vicinity; and addressing the recommendations contained in the DEQ report.

The SCC also noted that a hearing examiner's report, which was entered on May 22, found, for instance, that the proposed project is needed and reasonably minimizes impact on the environment, scenic assets and historic resources.

The company and staff on May 26 filed comments on that report, the SCC said.

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