Virginia approves portion of Delmarva Power’s proposed transmission line

transmission elp april

The Virginia State Corporation Commission, in an April 8 final order, authorized Delmarva Power & Light to build and operate the Virginia portion of a transmission line extending from Maryland into Accomack County, Va., subject to certain conditions, including that the company comply with all of the recommendations provided by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

As noted in the order, Delmarva Power last August filed with the SCC its application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the project. The company proposes to replace and rebuild an existing 69-kV transmission line, which extends from the Piney Grove substation in Worcester County, Md., to the Wattsville substation in Accomack County, with a double-circuit 138-kV/69-kV transmission line.

The proposed project would be built using the right of way for the existing 69-kV line, and the existing wood poles would be replaced by larger, weathering steel poles that can support both circuits, the SCC added.

The total length of the project is about 30.9 miles, 6.2 miles of which would be in Virginia between the Maryland-Virginia border and the Wattsville substation.

According to the company, the proposed project is needed to address a thermal overload identified in planning studies that could adversely impact reliability by June 2018. Also, the existing 69-kV line, which was originally installed in the 1940s, must be replaced to address the risk associated with its age and condition.

The in-service date is June 2018 for the project, which has an estimated total capital cost of about $44.7 million, of which about $8.9 million is estimated for the Virginia portion, the SCC added.

The DEQ last November filed its report with the SCC, recommending, for instance, that Delmarva Power conduct an on-site delineation of wetlands and streams within the project area with verification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

SCC staff in January filed its report, concluding that Delmarva Power reasonably demonstrated the need for the proposed project and that it would increase reliability.

The SCC said that it finds that the proposed project is needed, and that that need is unchallenged.

“The record reflects that completing the project would replace an aging transmission line that is nearing the end of its expected service life and maintain reliability of the grid,” the SCC said.

The proposed project will promote economic development in Virginia by assuring continued reliable bulk electric power delivery to the region and thereby maintaining the reliability of the electric transmission system.

The SCC also said that it finds that the project is preferable to other electrical and routing alternatives considered in the proceeding, based on the SCC’s consideration of cost, environmental impact, routing constraints and transmission system needs. The SCC noted that the proposed project would be located entirely within existing ROWs, with the possible exception of one pole and associated equipment necessary for the new 138-kV line to terminate at the Wattsville substation.

The record indicates that the proposed construction of the Maryland portion of the line is pending before the Maryland Public Service Commission, the SCC said, adding that before beginning construction of the project in Virginia, the company is to submit to staff a copy of the order from the PSC approving the Maryland portion of the line.

By April 29, and every four weeks thereafter until construction of the project can begin, the company is to submit to the SCC’s Division of Energy Regulation monthly reports advising staff of the status of the Maryland proceedings, the SCC said.

Among other things, the SCC said that the project must be built and in service by June 2018, but Delmarva Power is granted leave to apply for an extension for good cause shown.

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