- The Virginia Supreme Court ruled yesterday that aspects of the controversial James River transmission project are subject to local siting laws, which could slow or stop Dominion Virginia Power's bid to construct the line.
- The utility has warned that the project is essential to the region's power supply, which could face shortages and blackouts as soon as 2017 if construction is not begun soon.
- Opponents say a series of 17 transmission towers would be a blight on the scenic river near Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English colony in America.
The court's decision was hailed as a win by preservationists, but the AP reports that the ruling doesn't necessarily mean the project will be stopped. The utility continues to say the transmission line is necessary to the region's reliability, and the court did not take issue with either the need for more power or the proposed route, which has been approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
"The electric reliability needs of the Hampton Roads area are too crucial for this line not to be built," Dominion spokesman David Botkins told the Associated Press.
The court's decision means the proposed switching station will be subject to James City County zoning decisions. The AP reports that supervisors in the county government are opposed to the proposed route of the transmission line. Whether they can be persuaded or negotiate a different path for the line remains to be seen.
Dominion Virginia Power's project is a 7.76-mile 500 KV overhead transmission line running from the Surry nuclear power plant switching station in Surry County, Virginia, to the proposed Skiffes Creek switching station located in James City County.
Last month Dominion urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to sign off on the project, warning that residents will face blackouts unless it can begin construction in the near future.
"At this juncture, delaying commencement of construction beyond Aug. 1, 2015, given the uncertainty of severe weather and its effect on construction, would likely force Dominion to comply with the MATS compliance deadline by retiring the Yorktown generating units without a transmission solution," Dominion Project Manager Wade Briggs Jr. said in a letter to the Corps.