Information in this post starts in November 2015. Later updates follow from top to bottom. The latest update was November 6, 2017.
November 2015: November 13, 2015, was the last day for public comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Dominion Virginia Power’s application to build a $155-million, 17-tower, 500-kilovolt transmission line from its Surry Nuclear Power Station in Surry County across the James River to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County. Dominion asserts that the transmission line is necessary for electricity reliability on Virginia’s Peninsula (the location of the Hampton Roads area with about 500,000 residents, several military installations, and many other power users). The project faces opposition from groups and citizens who object to the impact they believe the line would have on views from Jamestown Island and other historic or scenic locations. The transmission line was approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in November 2013, but that approval was challenged by James City County, Save the James Alliance Trust, and the James River Association, who asserted that local zoning approval was necessary for the project; and by BASF Corporation, who objected to the line’s crossing an environmental-remediation area on James River property owned by the corporation. In April 2015, the Virginia Supreme Court said the SCC did not err in approving the transmission line route, but the court also said local government approval is, in fact, necessary for the switching station in James City County. As of November 11, 2015, Dominion still needed a permit from the Corps of Engineers, and the James City County Board of Supervisors had yet to rule on Dominion’s application for a special use permit to build the Skiffes Creek switching station. A PDF of the April 2015 Virginia Supreme Court ruling on the transmission line is available online at http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1140462.pdf. Sources: Power line across the James River: An intrusive eyesore or electrical necessity? – Virginian-Pilot, 9/27/15. Charles City County residents oppose Dominion’s Chickahominy alternative route, Virginia Gazette, 11/4/15. Near Jamestown, Dominion power line battles history, “Marketplace” (American Public Media), 8/18/15. Transmission line project over James River voted down [by James City County Planning Commission on 8/5/15], WVEC-TV Norfolk, 8/6/15. New Battle of Jamestown pits power lines against preservationists, Washington Post, 7/14/15. Groups fight to save James River views from overhead power lines, Bay Journal, 7/8/15. Opponents cheer Va. ruling on James River transmission line, Associated Press, as published by WAVY-TV Portsmouth, Va., 4/16/15. Va. approves controversial Dominion power line over historic James River, Washington Post, 11/27/13.
Update 6/15/16: On June 13, 2016, Dominion Virginia Power released its latest plan—submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—for mitigating environmental impacts of its proposed 500-kilovolt transmission line from its Surry Nuclear Power Station in Surry County across the James River to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County. The plan released on June 13 provides more details on proposed mitigation activities than had been provided in a December 2015 version; in March 2016, the Corps notified Dominion areas needing more information. The newly released proposal is Dominion’s response. As in the previous version, the proposed mitigation activities would cost around $85 million.
Source: Mitigation plan largely unchanged, number remains at $85 million, Virginia Gazette, 6/14/16.
On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a provisional proffered permit for Dominion Energy’s (formerly Dominion Resources/Dominion Virignia Power) proposal to build a 500-kilovolt transmission line from across the James River to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County. The proposed project still requires permits from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and James City County. Sources: Dominion gets provisional permit for contentious James River transmission line near historic sites, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/13/17; Power line across James River one step closer to approval, Bay Journal, July-August 2017. For information about the application for the Corps of Engineers permit, see http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/SkiffesCreekPowerLine.aspx.
On August 3, 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Virginia filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, D.C., seeking to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform an environmental impact statement of Dominion Energy’s proposed 500-kilovolt power line across the James River to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County. The National Parks Conservation Association filed a similar lawsuit in July 2017. Currently the Corps intends to perform an “environmental assessment,” a less comprehensive review. Both kinds of study fall under the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; for more information on that act, see U.S. EPA, online at https://www.epa.gov/nepa/national-environmental-policy-act-review-process). Source: Dominion Energy : New lawsuit contests James River power line, 4-Traders.com, 8/4/17.
On November 2, 2017, Dominion announced that it had received received needed approvals to begin construction of the power line. Dominion announced that it had completed mitigation activities required in an agreement among the company, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a historic preservation advisory council. Source: Dominion set to begin construction on new transmission line, Associated Press, as published by WAVY TV-Portsmouth, Va., 11/3/17.
Other news articles:
DomPower: Skiffes Creek necessary to avoid rolling blackouts or worse, Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 1/17/17.
Army Corps to host sit-down between Dominion and opposition groups on Surry-Skiffes Creek project, Virginia Gazette, 1/19/16.
Clash of Competing Values, Bacon’s Rebellion, 1/20/16 [Detailed article on the process of, and concerns about, the routes of Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed Surry-Skiffes Creek transmission line and of the company’s proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline.]
Project location map for proposed power-transmission line from Surry Nuclear Power Station in Surry County, Va., to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County, Va., accessed at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Web site, http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/SkiffesCreekPowerLine.aspx, 11/11/5.