Two weeks ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued “preliminary finding” that Dominion Virginia Power’s preferred route for building a 500 kV transmission line across a historic stretch of the James River is the lowest-cost alternative for meeting the electricity needs of the Virginia Peninsula while remaining compliant with federal environmental laws. While the Corps continues to deliberate on the issue in the face of stiff public opposition, the finding would seem to improve the odds that the project eventually will get built.
Foes object to the transmission line on the grounds that towers as high as 295 feet will disrupt views of a historic stretch of the James River visible from Jamestown Island, location of the first surviving English-speaking settlement of the New World. While Dominion insists that the power line will be barely visible on the horizon, there is no denying that the structure itself is aesthetically unappealing. (See our in-depth coverage of the controversy here.)
Somewhat whimsically, one Bacon’s Rebellion reader, who asks not to be named, wonders if the aesthetics issue could be addressed by making the power line look less like a power line and more like a piece of art. The image above is a rendering by Choi+Shine Architects for an electric transmission line proposed for Iceland. That project never got built, but I’m wondering in the same spirit if the idea couldn’t be adapted to Virginia — give the tower-figures tricorn hats! The historical purists wouldn’t like it but, heck, maybe the tourists would.
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