Now, a Transmission Line Controversy for Tidewater

Dominion Virginia Power has asked the State Corporation Commission for permission to build two transmission lines to meet increasing demand for electricity in Hampton Roads, reports the Associated Press. The two lines, totaling 81.5 miles in length, would cost an estimated $223 million, crossing Dinwiddie County, Suffolk, Prince George, Sussex, Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

It looks like Virginia, which has one of the most electricity-intensive regional economies in the world, has reached a crossroads: We can continue down a path of relentlessly growing demand for electricity, which we meet by building large new power plants in isolated areas and connecting to population centers with transmission lines…. or we can get serious about conservation, energy efficiency, small-scale power sources close to the consumer, and, where economical, renewable energy.

There’s no way to avoid adding new capacity. But we don’t have to criss-cross every corner of the state in transmission lines.

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8 responses to “Now, a Transmission Line Controversy for Tidewater”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    This is a mistake on the part of Dominion. They should do one line at a time to prevent concerted controversy: divide and conaquer.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Okay, how do you provide electric power to all parts of the state without criss crossing the state with tranmission lines? People don’t want a power plant in their neighborhood, but they want the power in unlimited quantities 24/7/365 and that is what they have in this country. We can’t pull current out of thin air, not just yet. And congestion is just as big an issue with power as it is with motor vehicles, so interconnecting various networks is vital to maintaining reliability and injecting some downward pressure on costs. I also think wistfully of the Good Old Days when Virginia had 4 million people — we’re now at 8 and heading for 10.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Anonymous, you ask, how do we provide electric power without criss-crossing the state with transmission lines? People don’t want power plants in their neighborhoods.

    That’s very true, they don’t. But people don’t want transmission lines running their their neighborhoods either. Why is one group privileged over the other when it comes to having LuLus (Locally Undedirable Land Uses) in their back yards — especially when you consider that the very act of transmitting electricity long distances leads to the loss of electric power and is inherently inefficient?

    What is the alternative? First, it’s conservation, conservation, conservation. Second, energy efficiency, as in more efficient means of producing and transmitting electricity. Third, distributed grid, which means encouraging small-scale power production closer to the sources of demand, often using renewable fuels.

    I fully acknowledge that we’ll have to build more base-load power plants eventually, and we’ll probably have to build more transmission lines. But I doubt that we need to build as many of them as Dominion says we do.

  4. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “Third, distributed grid, which means encouraging small-scale power production closer to the sources of demand, often using renewable fuels.”

    And cogeneration.

    But, it is the same groups now opposing the power lines that previously opposed local generation, including a peaking plant in Fauquier County that donated millions for conservation easements.

    You just can’t make some people happy until you can pull goods out of thin air, and then have them evaporate when their useful life is finished.

    But the real issue comes down to property rights. If the Power companies had to pay the full price in a willing buyer / willing seller situation, then there would be both a lot fewer complaints and a lot fewer intrusions / takings.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Building a power line is pretty much going to prevent development for 250 feet either side of centerline. Skeleton towers don’t have much of a footprint or runoff problems.

    Maybe we should just look at it as a way to create a lot of interconnecting conservation land. Let the power companies pay for all the development rights expired. It would still be a lot more than what will happen under the current rules. At present all they have to pay for is what used to be there, which in most cases is not much.

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    WOW! Conservation tax credits for powerline rights of way.


  7. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    I thought you would like that. After all we have done it for golf courses.

    But my real point is that the power companies would pay to expire the development rights, instead of doing as EMR described with the interstate highways: pay for what was there previously, thereby extinguishing people’s investments, plans, and history.

    That way the powe companies would get something for the future: the ability to deliver power. The land owners will get something for the future too: at least a partial payment against what they might have had someday.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I do have a problem with VDOT or any govt-enabled entity using emminent domain to … look at an entire parcel.. get it’s value then pay you 1/4 of the total value for 1/4 of the property no matter what happens to the value of the rest of the property.

    This is wrong.

    But I think you are advocating future opportunity values – right?

    I don’t know how you do that.

    I do know that recently VDOT lost in court over a parcel of land they acquired by ED .. that ended up not being used .. and they offered to sell it back to the original owner – for the increased value instead of the original price they paid for it.

    So there is some precedent but I don’t know how you could “see” the future in terms of potential value of property.

    If you could do that – as an individual – they’d call you a visionary developer who knew what property to buy – when – and for how much – so that a few years later he/she would become rich because of their ability to predict future conditions.

    But then for every successful developer. there are a whole bunch who .. if they break even … are thankful – for not going broke and then there are others.. who do go broke.

    With Dominion – in theory – you could have the basis for a bargain – they could pay you in Dominion Shares and then you’d benefit from the use of your property for providing electricity.

    But I suspect that will not be satisfying to you…

    With VDOT and roads.. I essentially agree with you in terms of taking land for public benefit – primarily at the expense of the parcel owner rather than the public that benefits from it.

    How about – if a PPTA bought your land for a road and gave you a piece of the “action” either tolls and/or subsequent land development at the new exit ramps?

    Bonus Question: – have you considered that land itself is often acquired from the original owners BEFORE the original owners get wind of future plans?

    Is that “snookering”?

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