Dominion Virginia Power announced that it has chosen a preferred route for a needed 500 kV transmission line in Northern Virginia. The entire route is along an existing power line corridor connecting substations in eastern Frederick, southern Fauquier and eastern Loudoun counties.
The transmission line is needed by the summer of 2011 to alleviate potential overloads on other power lines serving Northern Virginia. These overloads can be avoided only by increased transmission line investment in the region or through mandatory load curtailment actions such as "rolling blackouts." Dominion reached its decision after working closely with regional grid operator PJM Interconnection to evaluate the changes in the latest load flow computer model. The changes have resulted in higher overloads, increasing the need for this line.
"As expected, the forecasting model showed a dramatic increase in demand for electricity in Northern Virginia. At the same time, new information regarding generating unit dispatch west to east enabled us to eliminate key differences among our alternate routes, making this path along existing corridors viable and now our preferred route," said John D. Smatlak, vice president-Electric Transmission.
"From the beginning, we have emphasized that a line is needed to serve Northern Virginia and the region, and now we have a route that takes advantage of existing corridors. Given this updated model from PJM, this route is now our priority for our engineering resources," said Smatlak.
Electrical demand in Northern Virginia has grown by about 40 percent over the last decade. 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.
Elected officials, including state Sens. Russell Potts and Charles Colgan and Delegates Joe May and Clay Athey, have encouraged Dominion to look for routes that use existing corridors for this power line instead of building through upper Fauquier County, which is home to key historical and cultural landmarks and rolling countryside.
"We also listened to the hundreds of citizens who came to our public workshops. We remained committed to working with PJM to take into account each and every load and generator change. By working continuously throughout this process, we believe this route will accommodate the needs of Northern Virginia," said Smatlak.
The preferred route is estimated to cost about $210 million. The entire route is along an existing transmission right of way that begins at the Meadow Brook substation in Frederick County and goes south into Rappahannock, Culpeper and Fauquier counties to a substation near Remington. From there, the line would head east and then north - again along existing rights of way - to the Loudoun substation. The Loudoun substation serves about 30 percent of the electric load in Northern Virginia.
Dominion will file this preferred route with the State Corporation Commission by the end of April. The application also will include direct testimony about the necessity for the line. The SCC must approve construction of all transmission lines in Virginia with a voltage of 150,000