Hollymead Transmission Line

UPDATE: New Poles and Wires Coming to Forest Lakes

Dominion’s crews have completed installing foundations for the new, double circuit structures that will be built this spring through Forest Lakes. Crews have also removed most of the temporary structures and pulled conductor to most of the new structures over the mountain between Cismont and Proffit Road.

  • Construction updates and photos can be found below.

Albemarle’s Energy Challenge: Ever-Increasing Demand

Hollymead Transmission LineClick to enlarge.Demand for electricity continues to grow in the northern Charlottesville area. In fact, the newest data shows electrical demand has grown by approximately 75% over the last 10 years.

This demand has created excessive loading on the existing transmission system that is projected to continue, making it essential for Dominion to improve the reliability of the transmission system that supplies electricity to its Hollymead Substation and to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s Proffit Substation.

Project Details

Construction Update

The months of March, April and May will be very busy for crews working through the Forest Lakes neighborhood. The photo below may look familiar with all the snow we have had, but it is actually a simulation – a graphically rendered image of what the new structures will look like once they are in place and the old structures have been removed.

During March and April, neighbors will see crews bringing in the large pole sections and staging them at each structure location. Once the poles are erected, the new conductors will be pulled from structure to structure. Then, the old structures and wires will be removed. During May, the crews will turn their focus to restoring the areas that have been disturbed during construction.

Here you can see the silt fencing installed to help with erosion and sediment control. These controls become even more important during wet or snowy weather. Dominion’s crews have had to replace several miles of this barrier due to vandalism within the neighborhood.

We recognize that the right-of-way has been beautifully developed as a recreation area and we will do everything we can to avoid obstructing these activities. We ask that you and your children help respect the work zones so that we can complete this project on time.


Work is also happening within the Hollymead Substation (above), which is located off Worth Crossing. Residents may notice large vehicles entering or exiting the site as we expand the site on Dominion’s property to accommodate the second line. Some work may be visible from Arbor Lake Drive and the Clubhouse areas, as we make room for the new line to enter this station.


Looking into Hollymead Substation from Arbor Lake Drive. To the left of the “H- frame” structure you can see in the station, a second structure will be added to receive the second line. Some of the trees on the left of this photo will need to be removed to ensure the necessary clearance for the line as it enters and connects into the new structure. This new structure, called a backbone, will be installed in March.

Line construction

Check back for additional updates and to follow our progress.

Video - Hollymead Transmission Line

View a video about this project and how the community is involved in the process.

Hollymead Project Area Map

View a map of the project area. Select any red arrow on the map to view a photo of the existing transmission structures at that location (use scroll bars to explore the map).

Need For The Project

The need for the Hollymead project is driven by reliability standards for meeting peak demand. A key factor in evaluating the load limitation on a radial (served by one source) transmission line, such as the Hollymead line, is the distribution load that can be switched to circuits served from other sources. Dominion reliability guidelines, driven by mandatory NERC standards, dictate that load on radial transmission lines without an alternate supply should be limited to approximately 100 MW. The load on the existing line exceeded 100MW during the winter of 2009.  The in-service target date for this project is spring of 2014.

This growth is occurring in areas served both by Dominion and by Rappahannock Electrical Cooperative (REC). REC relies on this transmission line as its sole source of power to serve its customers in this area. Dominion is obligated to supply power to its new and existing customers, including REC. Conservation measures and demand-side management can reduce demand growth rates, but Dominion does not expect these measures to be sufficient to eliminate the need altogether and is obligated to be prepared to satisfy the load requirements as they occur.

Project Description

Using existing right-of-way, Dominion will remove the existing structures and replace them with slightly taller but similar looking structures that will hold the original line and a second line to serve Hollymead Substation and REC’s Proffit Substation. Because the existing line is the only source of power for these two facilities, Dominion will also use temporary structures along the northern edge of the right-of-way to keep the existing line energized during construction.

To see the existing structures, use the project map link above.  To see diagrams of the proposed structures, use the links below.

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. On October 19, 2011, the SCC issued its Final Order in the Hollymead case, authorizing construction of a second line in the existing right-of-way.

Dominion filed an application with the SCC on February 18, 2011. On March 17, 2011, the SCC issued its Procedural Order in the Hollymead case, which included a public hearing on July 14, 2011. On August 22, 2011, the Hearing Examiner issued a report recommending the SCC issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for construction of the second Hollymead transmission line.

Documents related to the case are made available to the public on the SCC Docket Search section of the SCC web site, in the "Search Cases", case number PUE-2011-00015.

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

Project Timeline
  • 2011 - February:  Dominion Files SCC Application
  • 2011 – October:  SCC Final Order authorizes construction of second line, to be completed by May 2014
  • 2011 – Late Fall:  Pre-construction activities including surveying, construction access roads and erosion and sediment controls)
  • 2012 – Spring: Construction begins (check back for updates)
  • 2014 - May:  Project completion; new line to be energized
Early Community Involvement

As a pilot program, Dominion asked property owners, environmental organizations, natural resource managers, community leaders and other local stakeholders for their thoughts and input prior to the design of a solution for Hollymead. This early stakeholder involvement was designed to identify the interests from many diverse perspectives and incorporate those considerations into the decision-making process before Dominion developed its application for SCC approval of the project.

The University of Virginia’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) served as an impartial facilitator to help community stakeholders understand the need for new local transmission facilities and provide input on options for enhancing the electrical system serving the northern Charlottesville area. The Community Advisory Group (CAG) met 5 times and participated in a public open house held in November, 2010. The full schedule of activities can be found below.

Presentations and Resources

Schedule of CAG Activities

Timing Milestone
2010 - June Develop Community Advisory Group
Introductory Community Meeting
June 29 Meeting Notes - Word / PDF 
July 22 First Community Advisory Group Meeting
July 22 Meeting Notes - WordPDF 
September 7 Second Community Advisory Group Meeting
Sept. 7 Meeting Notes - Word / PDF 
October 5 Third Community Advisory Group Meeting
Oct. 5 Meeting Notes - Word / PDF 
October 26 Fourth Community Advisory Group Meeting
Oct. 26 Meeting Notes - Word / PDF 
November 18 Open House: Review Process, Gather Community Input
December 7 Final Community Advisory Group Meeting
Dec. 7 Meeting Notes - Word / PDF 
2011 - January IEN Issues Final Report 

Information on the Grid; Greenpower

  • The modern "electric grid," referring to the powerlines that supply your home with electricity, receives the 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. 
  • Learn how the electric grid operates and how power gets to your house.
  • If you are ready to run the grid yourself, 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.
Contact Us

Contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Hollymead 230kV Line

Questions and Answers

Will Dominion require additional right-of-way?

No, the proposed transmission line will be constructed within the existing right-of-way.

Will tree clearing be necessary for this line?

Yes, in some locations. Prior to building a new power line, the existing right-of-way must be cleared to allow construction activities and eventual transmission line operation. Existing low-growing vegetation may be left in place when 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 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. Property owners will be notified before construction clearing begins.

How will the completion of this project benefit me as a resident?

The new 230 kV line will provide increased operational flexibility and greater system reliability. As an area resident, this means fewer outages, and shorter durations should an outage occur.

I’m a REC member. How does a Dominion transmission project benefit me?

Approximately half of the customers served by the existing transmission line are REC customers. Due to the interconnected nature of the electric transmission grid, all REC customers rely on Dominion's transmission infrastructure to deliver reliable power.

What is a radial transmission line?

A radial transmission line provides the only source of power to a substation serving customers.  The existing 230 kilovolt line leading into the Hollymead Substation is an example of a radial line.  If this line goes out for any reason, then Hollymead Substation and REC’s Proffit Substation also go out until the line is repaired and put back in service. For this reason, substations fed by radial lines are susceptible to extended outage durations; without a second source, damage from accidents or weather-related events during peak load periods must usually be repaired before service restoration can occur.

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, less than 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 may I obtain more information on the project’s SCC application?

The Virginia State Corporation Commission maintains copies of all documents related to the case, number PUE-2011-00015, on the SCC website at

Will Dominion repair damage due to construction?

Yes. Our easement agreements allow us access to private roads of property owners crossed by the right of way. 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 we damage them.

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 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 get involved and better understand the transmission line planning and approval process?

Dominion welcomes comments and suggestions from property owners and the general public. Contact us for more information and please let us know if you would like for Dominion to send you project updates.

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