Dominion Wins OK on Switching Station

The James City County Board of Supervisors approved yesterday a Dominion Energy request to build a switching station needed to connect the proposed 500 kV Surry-Skiffes transmission line to the electric grid on the Virginia Peninsula.

The action eliminates the last substantive hurdle for the project, which triggered a massive outcry on the grounds that the transmission line would cross the James River near Jamestown, despoiling what foes described as pristine views of a national historic treasure.

The board split 3 to 2 on approving the station, which required a special use permit, zoning change, and height waiver. A decisive consideration, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, was concern that failure to build the transmission line would leave the peninsula vulnerable to blackouts.

Opponents have vowed not to give up the fight, but I can’t imagine what options they might have now that Dominion has obtained all needed regulatory approvals. I think we can close the file on this particular controversy.

Update: OK, I guess we can’t close the file. The National Parks Conservation Association has filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps and Secretary of the Army, seeking an injunction to block the permit issued for Surry-Skiffes. The T-D has the story here. See Dominion’s response in the comments.

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4 responses to “Dominion Wins OK on Switching Station

  1. Here is Dominion’s response to the lawsuit:

    We are reviewing the complaint, but fully stand behind the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision. This urgently needed energy project has been thoroughly studied and approved over the past five years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia State Corporation Commission, the Virginia Supreme Court and other agencies. It is clearly needed to maintain electric reliability for more than 600,000 people and was carefully sited to ensure it would not be visible from the Jamestowne Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown Battlefield. The location of the river crossing already is impacted by other development. Every other alternative fails to meet the need or has greater environmental and cultural impacts. No amount of additional study will change the facts. Additional delay is contrary to public interest.

    The Army Corp and other approving agencies followed the law and based their permitting decisions on sound legal basis after considerable study and input from the public and various other constituents. This has been one of the most heavily scrutinized infrastructure projects in the history of Virginia and any further delay in its construction will only put at greater risk our ability to keep the lights on in the Peninsula.

  2. The interesting thing is that Dominion portrayed the cost of the crossing against siting generation plant on the peninsula as if Dominion already had the generation to replace Yorktown – south of the James and all they had to do was build the powerlines.

    the actual cost should be two things – the cost of new plants + plus what it takes to get the power to the peninsula… they treat the generation south of the James as if it is “no cost”.. already available… who builds idle plants?

    second… if the crossing was what 140 million for 2 miles… via powerlines.. if that cost is extrapolated for the wind turbines at 17 miles?… that’s more than half the cost of the wind turbines and that’s overhead not underwater!

    It’s pretty clear.. if Dominion can afford to string 17 miles of underwater cable… in one place.. why not 2 miles in another?

    • You are sort of correct. Dominion has two problems to solve: stability and supply on the Peninsula, and, total generation. You can solve the stability and supply to the Peninsula by building generation there, or by tying the Peninsula to the Grid “backbone” more tightly; they chose the latter. You can solve total supply to the Dominion LSE by building new generation anywhere in PJM; they chose Southside VA. These are independent decisions. But, both problems have to be solved at the same time due to the Yorktown retirements that are causing (or at least, triggering) them.

  3. yup – but Yorktown is already down.. right? So apparently the Peninsular is getting adequate power right now… not without some upgrades needed but neither Dominion nor the EPA nor PJM would allow Yorktown to be taken offline if it put the region at risk…

    so what’s the true story here? Do we know? How do we know that new powerlines at Jamestown are the ONLY answer if right now they are operating 24/7 without it or perhap even further.. what’ the plan to deal with shortfalls right now … since the powerlines are not up? Do we know ? Is it rolling blackouts? And you’d still put Yorktown offline if that were a risk?

    does this add up?

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