Thursday, November 28, 2013

Virginia Approves Power Line Over James River

Scott Neville/For The Washington Post
           Dominion Power has proposed installing towers
 across the James River that would be visible
 from College Creek Beach on the Colonial Parkway.
 Local history buffs and nature lovers are
 trying to protect the scenic beauty of the area.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) of Virginia in Richmond approved a controversial request by Dominion Power on Tuesday to build a 500,000-volt transmission line over the James River — a plan that faces heavy opposition from preservationists and other organizations around America’s founding waterway.

The Center generally supports these sorts of projects and supports this plan.

Now, the focus — and fight — moves to the federal level. The project requires a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and the groups that have denounced Dominion’s plan on historic and economic grounds say they’re digging in.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation believes the SCC missed the mark but  hopes the Army Corps will take a hard look at this and make a meaningful evaluation of the historic and environmental impacts of Dominion’s plan.

The utility’s 7.4-mile transmission line would span the same stretch of river that some of the first English settlers navigated in 1607 before landing at Jamestown. It would cross the James on a series of as many as 17 towers — the largest being nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty and, critics say, be visible from the tip of Jamestown Island and along the historic Colonial Parkway.

The SCC concluded, “the evidence is clear that the proposed project is necessary to continue reliable electric service to the hundreds of thousands of people who live and work across this broad region of Virginia.”  Dominion Virginia Power noted it, “is sensitive to historic and environmental concerns and the Commission ultimately agreed that the company’s recommended routes are the least impactful.”

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the College of William and Mary, and Preservation Virginia are among those opposing the project. In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation added the James River to its list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places in an effort to amplify the controversy.

Construction of the transmission line could begin before the end of the year. The SCC ordered Dominion to finish the project by June 1, 2015.  (Wash Post, 11/27/

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