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King George backs line to Dahlgren

By CATHY DYSON

King George County Administrator Travis Quesenberry will attend a hearing in Richmond Tuesday to express the county’s support for a new high-voltage power line to Dahlgren.

Dominion Virginia Power wants to build a 10-mile overhead transmission line from an existing line on State Route 3 to a new substation at the Navy base in Dahlgren.

The project will cost $36 million, according to the most recent report. It will support the growing needs of the Navy base and economic development in the community around it, according to Dominion officials.

Demand for electricity in the Dahlgren area has grown 55 percent since 2001, according to Dominion.

Dahlgren is at the end of Dominion’s current line, so any power outages along State Route 3 take out electricity to the base, as well as businesses in the new Gateway shopping center and the University of Mary Washington’s Dahlgren campus.

Tuesday’s hearing on the new transmission line will be held by the State Corporation Commission. It’s one of many steps in the approval process, which can take up to two years.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m. in the SCC Courtroom, second floor, at 1300 East Main St. in Richmond.

Residents are invited to attend and provide input.

King George Board of Supervisors members decided Tuesday to send Quesenberry to let the SCC know they support a new line—not attempts to upgrade the existing one.

In its report, the SCC staff didn’t oppose the project, and agreed the 230-kilovolt line would meet the growing needs of the area and provide more reliable service.

Reliability of the existing line “at present, is significantly less than the system average,” the report stated. But the report went on to note that a “distribution solution,” an ongoing system of upgrades and additions, would cost half as much as the proposal.

The only problem is, it wouldn’t be as reliable, the report said. So the question becomes, according to the SCC report: Does the reliability of the new line justify the additional cost of it?

King George Supervisor Joe Grzeika thinks so.

“An alternative really won’t solve the problem,” Grzeika said. “I think it would be penny wise and pound foolish to go with that approach.”

Dominion made the same points in its rebuttal to the SCC, said Carla Picard, the company’s communications manager.

“We provided information on why we rejected [the alternative],” she told the supervisors on Tuesday. “The character of the load in this area should be an important consideration for the commission when they’re making this final decision.”

Dominion hopes to get SCC approval so it can start construction of the new line in summer of 2013 and finish in May 2014.

More information about the process is available on Dominion’s website. Go to dom.com and search for “Dahlgren.”

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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