Corporate

Loudoun-New Road 230 kV Double-Circuit Line and Substation

PROJECT UPDATE: The new substation and transmission line have been completed and energized.

The transmission line and substation are now in service. Restoration of the right-of-way corridor will take place over the next few months to ensure that grass is reestablished.

Loudoun County Projects

Learn about projects under development or construction in the county.

Dominion Virginia Power has an obligation to provide a strong and reliable source of electricity to all its customers and is committed to doing so in a safe, responsible and economical manner.

In order to comply with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) criteria, Dominion has upgraded an existing transmission line to alleviate the potential for equipment failure and extended power outages.

Dominion Virginia Power has upgraded an existing transmission line originating at Loudoun Substation and terminating at the New Road Substation in Loudoun County. The project involved replacing existing structures, adding a second circuit and increasing the voltage of a portion of the line from 115 kilovolts to 230 kilovolts — all within the boundaries of the existing right-of-way.  On January 24, 2011 Dominion was granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct the proposed facilities; the Final Order states "the transmission line and associated substation approved herein must be constructed and in service by May 31, 2013."

Project Details

Construction Updates
  • In May, the existing "H-frame" wooden structures were removed.
  • In June, drill rigs began drilling foundations for the new monopole structures, which were completed in December.
  • New monopole structures that can support a new, higher-capacity conductor were erected on these foundations and finished in May 2013.
  • In May 2013, after the new transmission line is placed in service, crews will remove the temporary transmission line and restore the right-of-way corridor to pre-construction conditions.
  • In September 2012, construction also began on a new electrical substation just east of Rt. 15 near New Road. This facility will step down the voltage of electricity from the new 230kV lines and increase reliability of service for Dominion and NOVEC customers. The grading work and retaining walls have been completed, and equipment will begin arriving.
  • The substation was completed and energized in May 2013.

View a Jan. 18, 2013 update provided to property owners/residents.

Thank you for your patience as we complete these preparations to enhance safe and reliable electric service in the community. Please maintain a safe distance from construction sites and transmission easements for your protection and to allow our crews to work safely.

Route Map
Need For The Project

An existing 9.6-mile, 115 kilovolt line extending west from Loudoun Substation is the sole source of power for Dominion Virginia Power's Middleburg Substation and four NOVEC facilities (Cedar Grove Delivery Point and Arcola, Logmill and Evergreen Substations).  Radial lines are susceptible to extended outage times; without a second source, damage from accidents or weather during peak load periods must usually be repaired before service restoration can occur, prolonging outages.  Current load exceeds Dominion Virginia Power's documented reliability criteria for radial transmission lines — it is federally mandated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that Dominion adhere to its stated planning criteria.

Demand for electricity projected for all customers served by the 115 kilovolt line out of the Loudoun Substation was validated and verified by Quanta Technology, an independent third party firm.  Quanta Technology confirmed the demand for electricity served by the existing Loudoun-Middleburg line will increase 71% in the NOVEC service area and 13% in the Dominion service area over the next ten years.  The projected demand forecast for electricity reflects many factors including changes in customer types and quantities, as well as a trend resulting from increased energy conservation.

Without this project, by 2013, if an outage were to occur on this line, more than 8,000 customers would have to wait for transmission line repairs before their service could be restored. Furthermore, unless the capacity is increased, projected loading will exceed the thermal rating of this line within approximately six years, creating unsafe conditions and the potential for equipment failures.

Project Description

Remove existing wooden H-frame structures and rebuild a new 230 kilovolt line (double-circuit configuration) on steel single-pole structures (approximate height 110') between Loudoun Substation and a proposed substation to be built south of New Road and east of Route 15 in Loudoun County.

  • Approximate total line length – 4+/- miles 
  • Right-of-Way – No additional right-of-way 
  • Typical structure description – Single-pole Corten steel structures, average height 110 feet. View a diagram of the existing wooden structures and the proposed steel structures.
Project Benefits

This transmission line will:

  • Resolve the projected thermal overload
  • Reduce the total number of customers left without service during a potential line outage by 80%
  • Upgrade aging infrastructure in an area with the highest growth rate
  • Establish a double-circuit 230 kilovolt source in the area - optimizing the use of the existing right-of-way
  • Resolve Dominion's criteria violation for this radial line (exceeding 100 megawatt limit)
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.

The Company filed an application (Volume I and Volume II) with the SCC on December 28, 2009.  The application and further information is available to the public on the SCC Docket Search section of the Web site, in the "Search Cases" section enter case number PUE-2009-00134.  On January 24, 2011 the SCC issued a Final Order authorizing Dominion to construct and operate the Loudoun-New Road 230 kV double-circuit transmission line on the route proposed in the Company's Application.

The Company is also authorized to construct and operate the proposed New Road Substation to be located in Loudoun County, subject to approval by the County. Dominion was granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct the proposed facilities; the Final Order states "the transmission line and associated substation approved herein must be constructed and in service by May 31, 2013."

Project Timeline
  • December 2009 – Application was filed with Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC).
  • January 2011 – Project was approved by the SCC
  • December 2011 – Construction of the temporary 230 kilovolt transmission line began
  • September 2012 – Construction of the New Road substation expected to begin
  • May 2013 – Complete substation and line construction; energize facilities.
Contact Us

Contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Loudoun-New Road project (formerly Loudoun-Middleburg).

Questions and Answers

Will Dominion require additional right-of-way?

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

According to the map, my property is near the proposed New Road Substation off of Route 15 in Loudoun County, where can I get more information about this facility?

For more information regarding the New Road Substation, please contact us directly.

Does Dominion have plans to construct any new transmission lines near the Middleburg Substation in the near future?

Not at this time.  Based on current projections, Dominion's evaluations have shown this proposed upgrade project meets the needs for the area for the next several years.

Several months ago, Dominion Virginia Power provided information regarding our proposed upgrade to an existing transmission line between the Loudoun and Middleburg Substations.  As announced in July of this year, our initial project proposal involved increasing the voltage of the transmission line from 115 kilovolts to 230 kilovolts, adding a second line, and replacing existing structures along the 9.6-mile route between the Loudoun and Middleburg Substations.

Recent demand forecasts, verified by a third party firm, Quanta Technology, show growth over the next ten years in the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) service area is expected to increase 71%.  Projections during the same timeframe in the Dominion service area (west of Route 15) show a 13% growth rate.  Based on the Quanta study, Dominion Virginia Power has determined the best course of action at this time is to focus on the area showing the highest growth rate — that being the approximately 4-mile segment of the line east of Route 15 between the Loudoun Substation and the general location of NOVEC's Cedar Grove delivery point in Loudoun County.  The existing 115kV line west of this area terminating at Middleburg Substation will remain unaltered in this revised project.

Dominion plans for the future according to long-range models.  Our planning department will continue to closely monitor the need for electricity and discuss future developments with county residents and elected officials.

Will tree clearing be necessary for this line?

Yes, in some locations.  Prior to building a new power line, the existing 100-foot 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 would 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 NOVEC member. How does a Dominion transmission project benefit me?

The majority (60%) of the customers served by the existing transmission line are NOVEC customers.  Due to the interconnected nature of the electric transmission grid, all NOVEC customers rely on Dominion's transmission infrastructure to deliver reliable power.

In the current economic turndown, why can’t you delay or cancel this project?

This proposed project will upgrade an existing 56-year-old line that currently approaches operational limitation and exceeds federal reliability criteria for radial transmission lines. Growth projections, including revised economic modeling, indicate the line will remain in violation of these standards without an upgrade.

Furthermore, a study of recent recessions shows energy demand jumping as the economy improves.  Data from the last three recessions (1981, 1991 and 2001) show energy demand growing 8.5 percent on average over the five years following the recession's end.  (David Wagman, Chief Editor, Power Engineering magazine)

What is a radial transmission line?

A radial transmission line provides the only source of power to a substation serving customers.  The existing 115 kilovolt line leading into the Middleburg Substation is an example of a radial line.  If this line goes out for any reason, then Middleburg Substation also goes 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 (OH) 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 8 to 10 times more expensive than an overhead option.

If requested by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), Dominion would develop alternatives to the Loudoun-New Road project which could include underground.  Underground transmission projects can cost up to 10 times what an equal distance overhead line costs, and such expenses are passed on to all our customers.  In the end, the SCC will make the final decision as to what Dominion is required to build.

Where can I get more information about underground transmission lines in Virginia?

Dominion operates a high-voltage network of approximately 6,300 miles of transmission lines. Of this total, less than 1% (52 miles) is comprised of underground (UG) cables. At 230 kilovolts, such as the proposed line, there are approximately 2,500 miles of OH lines and 34 miles of UG 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.

On March 6, 2008 the General Assembly established a pilot program (House Bill 1319) to underground certain high voltage transmission lines within the Commonwealth. This bill has passed both houses of the General Assembly and was approved by Governor Timothy M. Kaine on April 2, 2008.  Dominion will construct two approved pilot projects. For more information, visit the project websites at Pleasant View-Hamilton and Beaumeade-NIVO.

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

The Virginia State Corporation Commission will issue dates for a public hearing, most likely in the project area, with an evidentiary hearing 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 can be found on the SCC website at www.scc.virginia.gov.

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 for the construction and maintenance of transmission lines to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for review and approval. This project will be submitted 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:

Why does Dominion continue to build power lines rather than meet energy needs by supporting Conservation and Demand Side Management instead?

This particular project is necessary to alleviate violations of federally mandated reliability criteria for radial transmission lines.  However, Dominion does have several conservation and demand side management programs in place.  In the summer of 2008, Dominion launched nine pilot programs that tested customer acceptance of new energy-saving initiatives. Approximately 4,500 customers in Dominion's Central, Eastern and Northern Virginia service areas were randomly solicited to participate in one of the pilot programs including Programmable Thermostats, Air-Conditioning Cycling Devices, Home Energy Audits, and PowerCost Monitors. These pilot programs are a vital part of laying the groundwork for even larger conservation initiatives in the future. They help us learn more about the type of programs our customers want - and help us create initiatives that will produce increased energy savings.

Dominion has announced an Energy Conservation Plan to achieve the goal shared by the state of Virginia to increase the Commonwealth's energy independence and to reduce the growth in energy use by 10% by 2022.  The Energy Conservation Plan will be filed with the Virginia SCC later in 2009.  In addition, Dominion is partnering with the U.S. EPA/DOE ENERGY STAR program to help get the word out about using energy-efficient appliances and making energy-efficiency improvements at home.

We also endorse the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency Recommendations, which provides principles and guidelines for state legislatures, public utility commissions and electric utilities to use to meet the nation's growing demand for energy by delivery cost-effective demand-side options.

Charlottesville is the first city in Virginia and one of the first in the nation where homes and businesses will be equipped with "smart meters" that will make the delivery of electricity more efficient and less costly and will lay the groundwork for a "smart grid."

Dominion will utilize its electrical distribution, communications and information technology infrastructure to promote energy conservation and environmental responsibility, improve customer service and improve utility operations in this smart grid effort.  View our news release for details on SmartGrid Charlottesville. You can also view Energy Saving Tips and information on Dominion's Virginia Green Power initiative.

To get personalized tips to reduce your usage and save money, check out our Home Energy Calculator.

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 or invitations to future opportunities for public participation.

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