Ask Virginia Senators to Save the James!

December 14, 2016 by Grant Stevens

Since 2013 when the James River was first listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the Trust has been actively working to encourage Dominion Virginia Power to pursue an alternative to building a 500 kV overhead transmission line across the river near historic Jamestown. The transmission line project proposed by Dominion would be visible from Jamestown Island, Colonial Parkway, National Historic Landmark Carter’s Grove plantation and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

The National Trust and our partner organizations have repeatedly requested that alternative projects be identified that could both meet Virginia’s energy needs and save the historic landscape of the James River. With that goal in mind, the National Trust recently hired an independent engineering firm that identified several potential alternatives to Dominion’s proposal.

The engineering firm developed four alternative projects that would avoid the need to construct an overhead 500KV transmission line across the James River. Each of these alternatives would cost less to construct, can be built more quickly, meets all relevant reliability standards, satisfies the energy needs in the region, and protects the historic landscape and resources along the James River. Details about the alternatives are available here.

Dominion’s project proposes constructing a 500kV transmission line across the James River from Surry to Skiffes Creek. It also requires construction of a new Skiffes Creek substation and smaller 230kV power line from Skiffes Creek to Whealton.

The National Trust has provided this new information on alternatives to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency reviewing Dominion’s request for a federal permit for this project. This information on alternatives could be used to support a decision to deny the permit for this project. At the very least, the Army Corps should fully review these new alternatives through preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement. A close look at alternatives is required by federal law and the James River deserves nothing less.

We’re asking Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to call on the Army Corps to deny the federal permit. Please contact them today.

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