RD357 - Fifth Annual Report on the Pilot Program to Place Certain Transmission Lines Underground

Executive Summary:
House Bill 1319 (*1) (“HB 1319”) of the 2008 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly (“General Assembly”), as amended (*2) (the “Act”), collectively established a pilot program to construct four qualifying electrical transmission lines of 230 kilovolts (“kV”) or less in whole or in part underground. (*3) Among other provisions, the Act established the criteria necessary for certain transmission line projects to qualify for the pilot program. In addition, the Act directed the Commission to “report annually to the Commission on Electric Utility Restructuring, (*4) the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, and the Governor on the progress of the pilot program by not later than December 1 of each year that this Act is in effect.”

As of the date of this report, the Commission has approved three of Dominion Virginia Power’s (“DVP”) 230 kV transmission line projects for inclusion in the pilot program pursuant to the Act: (1) a two-mile segment of the Pleasant View–Hamilton transmission line in Loudoun County previously approved as an overhead line; (2) the 0.71-mile Beaumeade–NIVO transmission line in Loudoun County; and (3) the 3.7-mile Radnor Heights Project in Arlington County.(*5) One more qualified transmission line of 230 kV or less may be approved for inclusion in the pilot program from utility applications submitted before July 1, 2014.

As required by the Act, the Commission will continue to file annual reports on December 1 of each year until the pilot program has been completed and will file a final report no later than December 1, 2014. The final report will include an analysis of the entire pilot program and make recommendations about the continued placement of transmission lines underground in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as required by the Act.

Although the primary focus of this report is the pilot program relative to the Act, the report also will address two experimental underground transmission line projects not directly encompassed by the Act, (*6), (*7) both of which were approved by the Commission prior to enactment of the Act. The Commission believes that all relevant experience gained from these two experimental projects should be considered in conjunction with the projects under the Act for making recommendations about the placement of transmission lines underground in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
(*1) 2008 Va. Acts ch. 799 (see Appendix A).
(*2) 2011 Va. Acts ch. 244 (extending the program for two years) (see Appendix A).
(*3) The Act specified one qualifying project and directed the State Corporation Commission (“SCC” or “Commission”) to approve three additional qualifying projects.
(*4) The Commission on Electric Utility Restructuring, established pursuant to Chapter 885 of the 2003 Acts of Assembly, was continued, effective July 1, 2008, as the Commission on Electric Utility Regulation (Va. Code § 30-201).
(*5) Appendix B provides the pilot status of all transmission line applications (230 kV or less) filed since the effective
date of the Act, including those that did not qualify for the pilot program.
(*6) The Commission approved the two experimental 230 kV underground projects to enable DVP to gain experience with cross-linked polyethylene (“XLPE”) solid dielectric cable. These two experimental projects include the 2200-foot Clarendon-Ballston project in Arlington County and the 5.5-mile Garrisonville project in Stafford County (see Appendix C for additional details and Appendix D for construction updates and photographs).
(*7) To date, the Commission has approved approximately 39 miles of 230 kV transmission lines for underground construction that employ high-pressure fluid-filled (“HPFF”) cable technology. These underground lines are located in various areas of DVP’s service territory, including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Norfolk, and underneath the York River. In most cases the lines were located underground in highly congested urban areas because overhead construction was not feasible.