State Commission Recommends OK of 240-Mi. Power Line

Wed August 27, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Michael Felberbaum - ASSOCIATED PRESS

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) A Virginia State Corporation Commission hearing examiner recommended July 28 that regulators approve an application for Virginia’s portion of a proposed multistate power line.

The Virginia portion of the 500-kilovolt line runs from the Virginia-West Virginia state line in Frederick County to a substation in Loudoun County, traversing Warren, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Fauquier and Prince William counties.

Separate segments would be constructed by Dominion Virginia Power and Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company. The complete 240-mile (386 km), $1.3 billion line would run from Washington County, Pa., to Loudoun County, Va.

In a report filed July 28, Hearing Examiner Alexander F. Skirpan Jr. said construction is necessary to serve northern Virginia and resolve overloads projected to occur beginning in 2011.

Skirpan recommended that regulators approve the Virginia segments as long as the parts of the line in other states are approved.

In determining the route for the Virginia portion, Skirpan recommended the SCC consider locating the lines partially or wholly within existing transmission right of way.

The commission has the final decision on whether to approve the line.

The recommendation affirms that the line is needed in Northern Virginia, said Dominion spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson.

“The route we recommended in our application does in fact have the least impact on the community and the environment,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Dominion officials hope to begin construction as soon as possible if the line is approved.

A long list of opponents, including environmental groups and various localities, have objected to the project, saying the importance of the line is being overstated and that the line would harm the environment as well as scenic and historic sites.

PJM Interconnection, the organization responsible for the transmission grid for a 13-state area, approved construction of the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line in 2006. Multiple other power lines have been proposed to ease growing power needs in the mid-Atlantic region.

Decisions on other portions of the line are pending in West Virginia’s Public Service Commission and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.