Corporate

Waxpool 230kV Line & Substation Project

PROJECT UPDATE: Construction Underway on new transmission line in high-tech corridor

In late 2012, the State Corporation Commission issued the Final Order for the Waxpool Project, finding the proposed project is necessary to meet growing electrical demands and improve reliability of service.

Recent increases in electrical demand, coupled with new economic development in the Ashburn area has resulted in a need to build a new substation and associated transmission facilities in Loudoun County.

A new 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line, approximately 12 miles long, will be constructed using primarily existing right-of-way to serve developing business and to increase power reliability in the area. Approximately 2 miles of the line will require some new right-of-way or widening of existing right-of-way.

Installation of new wire on the empty side of the existing transmission towers between the Brambleton and Greenway substation has begun. The new substation and transmission line work will begin later this year. Click “Construction Updates” below for more information.

Project Details

Route Map
Construction Update

Construction of the new Waxpool substation began in the summer of 2013 (see map). The site will be graded and fenced, and equipment assembly will take place on site.

Work on the new Waxpool line segment through the high-tech corridor has begun, and will be completed in intermittent phases through fall 2014.

Construction activities for the Waxpool line segment will consist of:

  • Installation of access roads for work vehicles and equipment
  • Vegetation clearing
  • Foundation installation: digging holes for the foundations, pouring concrete
  • Erecting new poles on the foundations
  • Pulling wire between each pole
  • Restoring the right-of-way and access points after completion of construction

Also as a part of this project, a second line is being installed on the existing structures between Dominion’s Brambleton Substation off Evergreen Mills Road and the existing structure near the Loudoun County Parkway and the W&OD Trail.  From there, the line will briefly cross the trail and extend approximately one mile north to the existing BECO Substation.

Project Description

The proposed project will support a new data center by 2013 and improve reliability for the greater community.

Dominion proposes to optimize its existing right-of-way through the Ashburn area by adding a new line on existing poles for most of the proposed project. Approximately 10 miles of new 230kV transmission line can be built on the vacant side of the existing poles within Dominion’s right-of-way. By adding a second 230kV line between the Brambleton and BECO substations (see Route Maps above), Dominion can then “tap into” the existing line to extend a new, loop line segment (approximately 1.5 miles) to serve the proposed Waxpool Substation. A “loop” or double circuit line provides redundant service.

This new loop line segment will require new right-of-way which will begin near Loudoun County Parkway and extend west, through the high-tech corridor, to the new substation location on Red Rum Drive. Some additional right-of-way will also be needed adjacent to existing right-of-way east of Loudoun County Parkway and north of the W&OD Trail.

Outreach included letters to neighboring property owners, newspaper ads, and a public open house held in October 2011.

Project Benefits

This transmission line and substation will:

  • add capacity to serve the high growth areas,
  • enable continued economic development in the area, and
  • help strengthen the electrical grid and improve overall reliability for the community.

The November 9, 2012, SCC Hearing Examiner’s Report states:

  • "[b]y assuring continued reliable bulk electric power delivery, the proposed project benefits economic development in Loudoun County”
Project Timeline
  • Fall 2011 – Community outreach; finalize route alternatives
  • December 2011 – File application with Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC)
  • April 2012 – SCC issues Procedural Order for Case No. PUE-2011-00129
  • June 4, 2012 – SCC Public Hearing, Ashburn
  • July 6, 2012 – SCC Staff Report Issued
  • August 15, 2012 – SCC Public Hearing, Richmond
  • December 2012 – SCC issues Final Order approving project, Route D
  • Spring 2013 – Pending approvals, begin construction of substation and 230 kV line
  • Fall 2014 – Complete substation and line construction; energize facilities
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 December 16, 2011. On April 3, 2012, the Virginia State Corporation Commission filed its Procedural Order for the Waxpool Project, which included public hearings scheduled for June 4, 2012, in Ashburn, and August 15, 2012, in Richmond, Virginia. On July 6, 2012, the SCC issued its Staff Report, confirming the need for the project.

On November 9, the Hearing Examiner’s Report was issued, recommending alternative "Route F" for the Waxpool loop portion of the project requiring new right-of-way. The SCC Final Order, released December 28, 2012, confirmed the need for the project and ordered the Waxpool Loop to be built along Dominion’s proposed "Route D" with a modification recommended by the Hearing Examiner.

Documents related to the Waxpool Project, Case No. PUE-2011-00129, are made available to the public on the SCC Docket Search section of the SCC web site, in the "Search Cases" section.

Information on the Grid; Green Power
  • 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
  • Learn how the electric grid operates and 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.
Contact Us

Contact us if you have questions or concerns about the proposed Waxpool 230kV Line and Substation project. Let us know if you would like to receive project updates via email.

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.

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 County’s expanding commercial facilities and improve power quality and reliability for the surrounding community. These improvements will support continued growth and economic development in Ashburn’s high-tech corridor by adding needed capacity. For area residents and businesses, improved reliability means fewer outages and shorter durations when outages do occur.

Can Dominion build a portion or the entire line underground?

The November 9, 2012, SCC Hearing Examiner’s Report states:

"Staff was unable to identify any part of the Project for which undergrounding would be significantly beneficial given that the Company currently has overhead lines on the proposed route and that the majority of the Brarnbleton-BECO Line would be built on existing structures. Staff concluded that the impact to the natural environment of the construction activities associated with building an underground transmission line would be substantially greater than that of an overhead line on the same route."

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 maintains copies of all documents related to the case. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the process and provide input. Dates for upcoming public hearings can be found under "Project Timeline" above. Updates about the status of the application can also be found on the SCC website at www.scc.virginia.gov.

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 Waxpool 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 2013, 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 Dominion to send you project updates or invitations to future opportunities for public participation.

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