HD87 - Evaluation of Underground Electric Transmission Lines in Virginia

Executive Summary:
[The electronic version of the report was replaced by JLARC on 3/21/07.]

House Joint Resolution 100 directed JLARC to study the criteria and policies used by the State Corporation Commission (SCC) in evaluating the feasibility of undergrounding transmission lines in Virginia, including the costs considered by the SCC and the impact on property values of installing transmission lines underground. The study concludes that while technologies are available to place transmission lines underground, underground lines are typically four to ten times more expensive than overhead lines. Underground lines can be less expensive than overhead lines when land values are high because they require smaller rights-of-way.

The SCC has rarely supported the use of underground lines, primarily due to cost and reliability concerns. Improved technology may allow greater use of underground lines in the future.

The SCC seeks to address the aesthetic, environmental, and property value concerns associated with overhead lines, but uses means other than placing lines underground, such as altering routes or adjusting the type or size of overhead towers.

The study identifies areas for improvement in the process used to plan for and approve transmission lines in Virginia.