Corporate

Dahlgren 230kV Transmission Line Project

PROJECT UPDATE: Foundation work continues; structures being assembled beginning in January

Within the approved right-of-way corridor for the new transmission line, Dominion’s crews have begun installing foundations for the new structures. In January, crews will begin erecting structures starting at the tap point near Rt. 3 and heading northeast toward the base at Dahlgren.

  • See Construction Updates below.

Dominion Virginia Power is committed to providing customers with safe, affordable and reliable electrical service. This sometimes requires the addition of new facilities.

Dominion received notification from the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren regarding plans to expand its facilities in King George County. Based on these projections and increasing demand in the surrounding community, Dominion determined that the expected electrical load would exceed the capacity of its distribution system, and will require the construction of a new transmission line (known as the Dahlgren Project). From an existing 230 kV transmission line located near Route 3, Dominion will construct a double-circuit transmission line along new right-of-way within King George County to energize a new, local substation at NSF Dahlgren.

Construction Updates

Transmission Line Work

In December, Dominion’s tree crews completed work to remove trees and vegetation within the approved right-of-way corridor for the new transmission line.

 

Once the larger logs are removed, the smaller debris is chipped and spread across the disturbed area to help stabilize the soil. In the distance in the photo above, you can also see the gravel access road that is being built to allow our equipment to access each structure location. In some areas, we will use timber matting instead of gravel.

 

On the base property above, you can see an access road of the timber mats leading to the future substation site.  This site has also been cleared and is ready for construction to begin in early 2014.

 

Dominion crews have begun installing foundations, beginning at the southwest end of the project near Rt. 3. Crews are moving in a northeast direction, toward the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren.

 

Each foundation consists of a large metal cylinder that is "pushed" into the ground at an approximate depth of 35 to 40 feet.

 

This method is pretty quick and does not require drilling or blasting.  The large equipment required for this installation can move efficiently from one location to the next.

Beginning in January, crews will bring in the large metal sections that will make up each structure. The structure will be assembled as it is erected. Once the structures have been erected, crews can begin stringing the conductors. There may be substantial lag time between these stages as the crews complete steps along other sections of the project.

Check back for additional updates as the work progresses.

Route Maps
Project Description

Dominion will build and operate a new 230kV overhead double-circuit transmission line from a point (Dahlgren Junction) on Dominion’s existing 230kV Birchwood–Northern Neck Line to a proposed new Dahlgren Substation at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren.  The existing line will be tapped at Dahlgren Junction to construct a new line that will "loop in and out" of Dahlgren Substation. A 230kV circuit breaker will be installed at Dahlgren Substation to split the existing line, thereby creating two 230kV circuits between Birchwood and Northern Neck:  the Birchwood–Dahlgren line and the Dahlgren-Northern Neck line.

The new 230kV circuits will be installed on double-circuit, single shaft steel poles and will be built within new right-of-way.  The approved route for the new line can be viewed above, under Route Maps.

Dominion intends to work with property owners to acquire right-of-way (120’ wide) from the existing line to the designated substation location on the base along the route determined by the SCC. 

  • Approximate total line length:  9.4+/- miles 
  • Right-of-Way:  New right-of-way corridor will average 120’ wide
  • Typical structure description:  Weathering steel poles, averaging approximately 120’ tall
Project Benefits
  • Improvements will support continued growth and economic development expected for King George County.
  • Project will add needed capacity to serve the local area and our nation’s critical facilities.
  • Reliability improvements for the community will mean fewer service interruptions, and shorter durations when an outage does occur.
Project Timeline
  • 2011 - Summer:  Community outreach
  • 2011 - Late October:  Dominion files SCC application (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2)
  • 2012 – Spring:  SCC accepts public comments
  • 2012 – June 12: SCC Public Hearing
  • 2012 – October 4: SCC Approves Project
  • 2012 – Fall: Begin working with property owners to acquire right-of-way
  • 2013 - Spring:  Begin construction (pending any necessary approvals)
  • 2014 - May:  Project completion; new line energized
SCC Approval Process

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is responsible for determining the need, route and environmental impact of transmission lines at 138 kV and above in Virginia.

Dominion filed an application with the SCC on October 26, 2011 (> view Volume 1 and Volume 2). On February 16, 2012, the Virginia State Corporation Commission filed its Procedural Order for the Dahlgren Transmission Line Project. The SCC Staff issued its Staff Report summarizing the case on May 21, 2012. On May 30, 2012, Dominion submitted additional testimony. The SCC held an evidentiary hearing on June 12, 2012.

In the Hearing Examiner’s Report, issued August 6, 2012, Hearing Examiner Skirpan found there is a need for the company’s proposed Dahlgren Transmission Line and recommends the SCC grant the approval for the project. He also stated Dominion’s Proposed Route C, with a local landowner’s requested alteration (assuming VDOT approval and no additional notice), will reasonably minimize adverse impact on the scenic assets, historic districts and environment of the area concerned.

On October 4, 2012, the Virginia State Corporation Commission issued the Final Order approving the Dahlgren Transmission Line Project. The SCC adopted a resident’s proposed modification of a segment of the route. This alteration will parallel U.S. Highway 301 for approx. 1.5 miles and rejoin Dominion’s proposed route to cross the highway.

Documents related to the case are made available to the public on the SCC Docket Search section of the SCC web site. To learn more about this process, view our SCC process map.

Early Community Involvement

Dominion was committed to consulting with stakeholders and the public during the route development process and began the process of developing an outreach program in spring 2011. Because the project would be located on new right-of-way, Dominion decided to go beyond traditional outreach and hired Natural Resource Group, environmental and public affairs consultants to the energy industry, to help develop and facilitate a comprehensive Community Engagement Plan.

The goal of the Community Engagement Plan was to aid Dominion in the identification of viable route options for assessment and inclusion in the project application by obtaining input from stakeholders and the public through open, transparent and comprehensive outreach during the route development process.  The Community Engagement Plan consisted of three public outreach methods:

  • Community leader outreach – In-person meetings with elected officials and other stakeholders
  • Community Input Group (CIG) – Facilitated small group meetings with identified stakeholders (subject matter experts)
  • Open Houses – Large group meetings with landowners and the public

The full schedule of activities, resources and presentations can be found below.
 

Outreach Activities

Timing Event
May 3, 2011 Project Presentation to the King George Board of Supervisors
View the Presentation 
May 6, 2011 Media: Fredericksburg Freelance Star announces Dominion project
June 10, 2011 Media: Blog invites residents to join Community Input Group
June 22, 2011 First Meeting of the Community Input Group 
Read the Meeting Summary 
July 13, 2011 Presentation for NSF Dahlgren 
July 22, 2011 Open House Invitation Letters mailed to approximately 1,100 residents with a copy of the newspaper ad 
July 27 – Aug. 10, 2011 Newspaper ads run in Fredericksburg Freelance Star and King George Journal
Aug. 1, 2011 Media: Blog announces Open House Aug. 10
Aug. 8, 2011 Media: Blog announces route maps available online
Aug. 9, 2011 Community Input Group Refresher Meeting (Optional) (> Read the Meeting Summary)
Aug. 10, 2011 Media: King George Journal: announces Open House; routes available
Aug. 10, 2011

OPEN HOUSE: Review Process, Share Route and Structure Options, Gather Community Feedback
--> View Open House Questionnaire and Voting Results (revised Dec.1, 2011)

Aug. 11, 2011 Media: Fredericksburg Freelance Star: 200 Attended Open House
Aug. 11, 2011 Media: Blog recaps Open House
Aug. 16, 2011 Media: Blog announces second public meeting
Aug. 17, 2011 Media: Blog confirms open meeting Aug. 18
Aug. 18, 2011 Final Community Input Group (CIG) Meeting; additional public meeting. (> View CIG Meeting Summary)
Sept. 12, 2011 King George Chamber of Commerce Presentation 
Late October, 2011 Dominion Files Application with SCC
Nov. 1, 2011 Dominion summarizes the project and SCC process for the King George Board of Supervisors (View the presentation with updated timeline)
June 5, 2012 Dominion provides status update to King George Board of Supervisors
June 9, 2012 Media: Blog highlights County’s support at hearing
June 11, 2012 Media: Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press reports on hearing
Aug. 6, 2012 SCC Issues Hearing Examiner’s Report 
Aug. 12, 2012 Media: Blog reviews SCC Hearing Examiner’s findings
Sept. 27, 2012 Supervisor Brabo’s Town Hall Meeting Presentation 
Oct. 4, 2012 SCC issues Final Order approving project to be built by 2014
Dec. 12, 2012 Media: King George Journal: Dominion donates $50,000 to Dahlgren Heritage Foundation
Jan. 24, 2013  Supervisor Brabo’s Town Hall Meeting Presentation 


Additional Resources

Contact Us

Contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Dahlgren Project.

Questions and Answers

Will Dominion acquire new right-of-way?

Yes. Prior to building transmission lines requiring new right-of-way, Dominion acquires perpetual rights from the owners of properties along the approved route to construct, operate and maintain electric lines across private land.  An easement is obtained by Dominion from the property owner in the form of Dominion’s standard right-of-way agreement and the document is recorded in the land records of the County or City where the property is located.

What is an easement? Do I still own my property?

Yes, the property owner still owns the land. Easement agreements provide Dominion with a specified set of rights needed to construct, operate and maintain electric facilities across private land.

How will property owners be compensated?

Dominion uses an appraiser to determine the fair market value of the land and the just compensation to which property owners are entitled for the property rights sought by Dominion. The appraisals are then used as the basis for the offers that Dominion makes to the property owners. Property owners will be requested to respond to the offer in a specified number of days.

How will tree clearing be handled for the construction of this new line?

Property owners will be notified before construction clearing begins.

Prior to building a new power line, the right-of-way must be cleared to allow construction activities and eventual transmission line operation that is safe and reliable. Existing low-growing vegetation may be left in place if it does not interfere with construction activities. Additionally, trees located outside of the right-of-way which are tall enough to potentially impact the transmission line may also be removed. These trees are commonly referred as danger trees; view a diagram of typical danger tree clearances.

Trees are cut to be no more than 3 inches above ground level. Debris that is adjacent to homes will be disposed of by chipping or removal. In other areas, debris may be mulched or chipped as practicable. Clearing will be accomplished by hand in wetland areas and within 100 feet of streams. Care will be taken not to leave debris in streams or wetland areas. Matting will be used for heavy equipment in these areas. Erosion control devices will be used on an ongoing basis during all clearing activities.

How are the routes chosen?

Routing a linear facility such as a transmission line involves balancing many considerations. Dominion and NRG conducted a rigorous routing process and established several criteria to facilitate a quantitative comparison among the potential routes identified. The evaluation included a quantitative analysis based on these routing criteria as well as consideration of more subjective or qualitative factors gleaned from site visits and discussions with property owners and other key stakeholders.

Dominion and NRG compared these five routes using 17 categories of routing criteria that included land use, environmental, cultural resource, visual impact, and engineering constraints as well as routing opportunities. Based on these criteria, as well the public input, Dominion selected Route C as the Proposed Route and Route B as the Alternate Route and eliminated further consideration of Routes A, D and H.

Route C was selected as the Proposed Route because it strikes the best overall balance of all of the potential routes in terms of minimizing a range of environmental impacts and taking advantage of the limited routing opportunities. The Proposed Route realizes the benefits of a predominantly rural route in that it avoids heavily populated or traveled areas, is not within 100 feet of any residences, and is within 500 feet of fewer residences (62) than most of the other routes. As such, the Proposed Route minimizes direct and visual impacts on residents and visitors. At the same time, the Proposed Route results in fewer impacts on environmental resources (e.g., forested wetlands, Resource Protection Area (RPA) land) than many of the other routes considered, and takes advantage of a routing opportunity by paralleling Berry Wharf Road and an existing distribution line for approximately 0.6 mile. The Proposed Route avoids Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)-designated conservation sites (except for the Dahlgren Substation site, which would be equally affected by any route) and, subject to further consultation with the DCR and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is not expected to adversely affect sensitive or protected resources. While two bald eagle nests are located within a quarter mile of the route, they both appear to be outside of the primary management buffer specified by the Bald Eagle Protection Guidelines for Virginia. The most notable disadvantage of the Proposed Route is that it is within a half mile of 16 architectural and historic sites and crosses an archaeological site that has not been evaluated for eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. However, Dominion will consult with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to identify how impacts on these resources can be avoided or mitigated.

The Alternate Route has many of the same advantages as those described for the Proposed Route. Like the Proposed Route, the Alternate Route is a predominantly rural route that would affect fewer private parcels than the other routes considered. The Alternate Route centerline is within 500 feet of only 53 residences, and it is not within 100 feet of any residences. Because the Alternate Route roughly parallels Upper Machodoc Creek for much of its length along the southern portion of the route, it crosses more perennial streams (meanders of Upper Machodoc Creek) and affects more wetlands than the Proposed Route. The Alternate Route is on the same alignment as the Proposed Route where it is collocated with Berry Wharf Road and the existing distribution line, as well as where it crosses the archaeological site referenced above for the Proposed Route. The Alternate Route crosses slightly more RPA land than the Proposed Route, but is on the same alignment as the Proposed Route in the vicinity of the bald eagle nests. In general, the Alternate Route is fairly similar to the Proposed Route with respect to its overall character and potential impacts on the human environment. However, the Proposed Route has the advantage of resulting in slightly fewer impacts on the natural environment, which is why it was selected as the Alternate Route over Route B.

How will the completion of this project benefit me as a resident?
By extending a new line from our existing 230kV network in the area, Dominion can better serve the Navy’s expanding facilities and improve power quality and reliability for the surrounding community. These improvements will support continued growth and economic development in King George County by adding needed capacity to serve the area and our nation’s critical facilities. For area residents and businesses, improved reliability means fewer outages and shorter durations when outages do occur.
I’m a Northern Neck Electric Cooperative member. How does a Dominion transmission project benefit me?

Approximately one third of the customers served by the existing transmission line (that runs parallel to Rt. 3) are Northern Neck Electric Cooperative customers. Due to the interconnected nature of the electric transmission grid, all Northern Neck Electric Cooperative customers rely on Dominion's transmission infrastructure to deliver reliable power.

Can Dominion build a portion or the entire line underground?

Overhead lines have proven to be the best choice for providing safe, reliable and economical energy to our customers. Underground transmission lines are not as desirable from an operational point of view. The duration of outages for underground transmission lines is significantly greater compared to overhead lines due to the complexities of locating failures and facilitating repairs. Additionally, labor and material costs for the installation of a 230 kV underground transmission line would be 6 to 10 times more expensive than an overhead option.

Dominion operates a high-voltage network of approximately 6,100 miles of transmission lines. Of this total, only about 1% (67 miles) is comprised of underground cables. At 230 kilovolts, such as the proposed line, there are approximately 2,600 miles of overhead lines and 44 miles of underground cables in our service area. These underground installations are primarily for large water crossings, dense metro areas, or other areas that are not suitable for overhead lines.

Where can I obtain more information on the project’s SCC application?

The Virginia State Corporation Commission may issue dates for a public hearing, in the King George area, with an evidentiary hearing in Richmond thereafter. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the process and provide input. The SCC maintains copies of all documents related to the case. Updates about the status of the application (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) can be found on the SCC website at www.scc.virginia.gov

To learn more about this process, view our SCC process map.

Will Dominion repair damage due to construction?

Yes. The company, at its expense, will repair any private roads damaged by Dominion or its contractors during construction of the line or during future maintenance. In addition, we will reimburse property owners for crop damage and repair or replace fences or gates if they are damaged.

What will be the environmental impact of construction of the line?

As part of the SCC application, Dominion completes an evaluation of potential environmental, cultural, and historical impacts of the Dahlgren Project. Dominion works with many local and state agencies to complete these evaluations and mitigate any impacts. The company also submits annual Erosion and Sedimentation (E&S) Control Specifications and an anticipated list of transmission line projects for the construction and maintenance of transmission lines to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for review and approval. For program year 2012, this project will be included in the annual submittal for approval prior to construction. Our contractors receive copies of the E&S specifications and any additional permit conditions prior to construction and are directed to meet any requirements. The right-of-way will be rehabilitated when construction is complete.

Our enterprise-wide environmental report describes our commitment to responsible stewardship of natural resources and provides a wealth of information on environmental management and performance. We also invite you to read our Corporate Environmental Policy and our Greenhouse Gas report.

Should I be concerned about Electric and Magnetic Fields?

Dominion is sensitive to public concern about possible health effects from exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMF). Dominion includes data on the levels of both electric and magnetic fields produced by proposed facilities in all applications submitted with the SCC. We continually monitor EMF research and speak to our customers and employees regularly to share the latest information available.

The Virginia SCC, which regulates the construction and operation of electric transmission lines of 138kV and above, considers EMF in every application. Hearing Examiner’s remarks from recent proceedings are below.

  • March 23, 2009 Beaumeade-NIVO (Case Number PUE-2008-00063) Report of Michael D. Thomas, Hearing Examiner concludes that "… electric transmission line electromagnetic fields do not represent a human health hazard.”
  • May 4, 2010 Hayes-Yorktown (Case Number PUE-2009-00049) Report of Deborah V. Ellenberg, Chief Hearing Examiner, states, “I find that EMF has not been identified as a carcinogen for human beings despite extensive study over many years, and there is, therefore, no basis on which to prohibit the Company from authorizing appropriate uses of its right-of-way.”
  • August 23, 2011 Hollymead (Case Number PUE-2011-00015) Report of Michael D. Thomas, Hearing Examiner, states, “The proposed facilities do not represent a hazard to human health, which finding is consistent with the Virginia Department of Health’s report entitled Monitoring of Ongoing Research on the Health Effects of High Voltage Transmission Lines (Final Report) dated October 31, 2000.”

The Virginia Department of Health in its final report evaluating EMF research concluded:

"Based on the review and analysis of the exhaustive literature review and other research projects completed under the EMF-RAPID program, the Virginia Department of Health is of the opinion that there is no conclusive and convincing evidence that exposure to extremely low frequency EMF emanated from nearby high voltage transmission lines is causally associated with an increased incidence of cancer or other detrimental health effects in humans. Even if it is assumed that there is an increased risk of cancer as implied in some epidemiologic studies, the empirical relative risk appears to be fairly small in magnitude and the observed association appears to be tenuous. The studies published in the literature lack clear demonstration of a cause and effect relationship as well as a definitive dose-response gradient."

Additional information:

How can I learn more about the electric transmission system?
  • The 21st Century Grid: This July 2010 article from National Geographic describes the electric grid and our modern day energy challenge.
  • The modern "electric grid," referring to the powerlines that supply your home with electricity, receives power from many sources and types of generation including wind, coal, natural gas, and hydroelectric and others. There is not a one-to-one connection between any fuel source and customer. Get more information on how the grid works.
  • View a diagram about how power gets to your house.
  • Check out the interactive simulations available on the Department of Energy website. You can also see how a few simple changes at home can lower your own consumption — and your bill!
  • So where is all the power going? Find out who the big users are on an information-packed site from Virginia’s State Corporation Commission.
  • Dominion recently launched a Green Power initiative that you might be interested in reviewing. You also can learn about Dominion’s other Conservation Programs, including Smart Grids.
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