T&D World Magazine

Northern Virginia Power Line Critical to Electric Reliability in Virginia

Dominion Virginia Power has long supported energy conservation efforts, but no realistic energy efficiency program or readily available technologies will prevent the need for construction of a new 500-kV transmission line for Northern Virginia by 2011 according to the company. Dominion Virginia Power is studying at least three alternate routes for the 40-mile line.

"These alternatives are a direct result of our conversations with the people who came to our workshops last fall and continue to contact us," said Paul D. Koonce, chief executive officer, Dominion Energy. "We have also been meeting with various groups and officials to explain the need for the line. All of these alternatives have their challenges, but they are worth studying alongside the planned route segments we displayed at the workshops.

"The prospect of rolling blackouts in Northern Virginia as early as the summer of 2011 is very real," said Koonce. "We took potential best-in-class conservation efforts and other alternatives into account in considering all of the possible solutions to a looming problem and the only answer is to build a line. Pursuing any other action would be just wishful thinking that puts us on a collision course with potential blackouts."

Koonce noted that the PJM Interconnection has cited Dominion as having the fastest growing demand for electricity at peak times among any of the PJM regions across 13 states. PJM likened the increase in demand on the Dominion system to adding approximately 1 million new houses over the next five years.

Reviews of all current reliability studies, including the North American Electric Reliability Council's Long-Term Reliability Assessment, PJM's Regional Transmission Expansion Plan and the U.S. Energy Department's National Electric Transmission Congestion Study, confirm a clear need for a transmission line. The final decision about the need for the line and route will be made by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

Electrical demand in Northern Virginia has grown by about 40 percent over the last decade and is projected to grow by another 8 percent by 2011. Along with increased demand from residential construction, proposed projects in Northern Virginia include the BRAC 2005 plan to add 22,000 employees at Fort Belvoir, the $3.4 billion expansion of the Washington-Dulles International Airport, the $4 billion extension of Metrorail and a number of energy- intensive computer data centers. All these projects and the related additional development they will create will generate large amounts of new demand for electricity.

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