Dominion Virginia Power is encouraged that consultants hired by the Virginia State Corporation Commission staff agree that a critical need exists for electric reliability improvements by 2011 in Northern Virginia and recommends the proposed route for a transmission line that would meet that need with least impact to the environment, cultural and historic resources.

"The studies undertaken by the commission staff show a need to increase the reliability of electricity in Northern Virginia," said John D. Smatlak, vice president-Electric Transmission. "The explosive growth in demand for electricity in Northern Virginia over the last decade and projected for the future has placed Dominion Virginia Power's ability to provide reliable, affordable electricity for the region's growing economy increasingly at risk. Our proposed route resolves this risk and maintains the reliability of electricity for Northern Virginia."

Dominion is seeking approval from the SCC to build a 65-mile, 500,000-volt transmission line from the Meadow Brook substation in Frederick County to the Loudoun substation in Loudoun County. The SCC held four rounds of local hearings last summer, will convene another public hearing in Richmond on Monday and an evidentiary hearing in Richmond on Feb. 25. Following a hearing examiner's report, the SCC is expected to decide later this year.

The SCC staff hired two consultants to review Dominion's application. One consultant assessed the need for the project while the other compared the environmental, historical and cultural impacts of the proposed and alternate routes.

In their reports, the consultants said:

  • "The results of the ... study indicate that without the proposed (Meadow Brook-to-) Loudoun Line, (federal) and (Dominion Virginia Power) reliability criteria cannot be met in either 2011 or 2016. In other words, there is a need to improve the existing power system to reliably serve the expected demand growth in both 2011 and 2016."
  • "(Dominion's) proposed Loudoun Line would fully resolve the expected reliability issues in 2011."
  • "Based upon our review of the application, the testimony of participants in the cases, aerial and ground reconnaissance and independent study, we believe that the Proposed Route would be the least impacting to the Commonwealth."
  • "In conclusion, based upon our study, we recommend that the Proposed Route be selected for the Meadow Brook Transmission line."

The SCC staff consultant also said it considered the "ramp-up time ... as limiting the feasibility of (energy efficiency) programs to defer the 2011 need for the proposed line." It further said that "without the proposed Loudoun line ... in service by 2011, contingency overloads at various 500kV transmission lines are expected to occur even if 4,000 megawatts of (generation) is added to the existing system."

"While we support and promote efficient energy use by all of our customers, even the most aggressive conservation efforts will not compensate for the obvious need to build this line," Smatlak said, adding that Dominion's studies also showed that additional generation would not solve the transmission reliability problem.

"Dominion is committed to providing reliable, affordable service to its customers now and in the future. This transmission line is essential to Dominion's ability to maintain system reliability and support future growth in Northern Virginia," he said.