Jan 23, 2007
"These alternatives are a direct result of our conversations with the people who came to our workshops last fall and continue to contact us," said Paul D. Koonce, chief executive officer, Dominion Energy. "We have also been meeting with various groups and officials to explain the need for the line. All of these alternatives have their challenges, but they are worth studying alongside the planned route segments we displayed at the workshops.
"While the alternatives are new, what has not changed is the critical need for an additional pathway for electricity into Northern Virginia. Virginia cannot afford to have its electrical network become like the region’s highway system — a bumper-to-bumper mess. Problems on that system lead to hours stuck in traffic jams. On an electrical transmission system, they lead to blackouts."
Dominion will continue to study all options and routes, including those presented at the workshops, in preparation for filing its SCC application in April. The company will present a preferred route as well as potential alternatives. The SCC has the ultimate responsibility to certify the need and choose the route.
Electrical demand in Northern Virginia has grown by about 40 percent over the last decade. PJM Interconnection recently cited Dominion as having the fastest growing demand for electricity at peak times among any of the PJM regions across 13 states. PJM likened the increase in demand on the Dominion system to adding approximately 1 million new houses over the next five years.
Without this power line, the company faces an increasing risk of having to use "rolling blackouts" to keep the Northern Virginia portion of our system stable as early as the summer of 2011.
The three alternates being studied along with the route segments shown at the workshops are:
The I-66 Alternative
In the I-66 alternative, the transmission line would leave the Meadow Brook substation on an existing transmission corridor to join the interstate near Front Royal. The transmission line would be co-located with the interstate or along outer easements until nearing Manassas Battlefield Park. This route would alleviate many private, historical and cultural landowner concerns. Moreover, this route would provide the long-term solution the company seeks and at approximately the same cost to customers.
Because of electrical and traffic safety concerns, the transmission towers would be slightly taller than the ones planned for the overhead routes shown at the workshops. Dominion has had preliminary discussions with the Virginia Department of Transportation, which also would have to grant its approval before construction if the SCC selects this route.
The Existing Corridor Alternative
In this alternate route, the transmission line would exit the Meadow Brook substation on an existing transmission line corridor, running south to the Morrisville substation in southern Fauquier County near the company’s Remington Power Station. From there, the line would be built north along another existing transmission corridor, passing next to Manassas Battlefield Park and traveling farther north to the Loudoun substation.
The route is longer — about 68 miles compared to about 40 miles for the overhead segments shown at the workshops — and more expensive — an estimated $210 million vs. $150 million. Moreover, this route would guarantee reliability in Northern Virginia only through the 2013 summer if demand projections do not increase more than planned.
The Underground Alternative
Undergrounding the transmission line would provide the reliability necessary for the region, but it would be the most expensive alternative at an estimated $1.7 billion. The line would be a high-voltage direct current (DC) underground line rather than an alternating current (AC) overhead line. It would require a 30-foot right of way and 10-acre sites at each end with seven-story buildings to house the equipment necessary to convert the currents.
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion (NYSE: D), one of the nation's largest producers of energy, with an energy portfolio of about 28,000 megawatts of generation. Dominion also serves retail energy customers in 11 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at www.dom.com.
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Jim Norvelle, 804-771-6115