• Report Identifies Alternatives to Power Lines Across the James River

    February 14, 2017

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation commissioned an independent engineering firm to complete a comprehensive study that identified four alternatives to Dominion’s preferred project across the James River at Jamestown. These experts determined that the alternatives would satisfy the area’s electrical needs and meet all relevant federal reliability standards, while also costing less and taking less time to build than Dominion’s proposal. The firm also concluded that these four alternatives are not an exhaustive list.

    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 powerline from Skiffes Creek to Whealton.

    Read the full NTHP-TCR Alternatives Report here.

  • Ask Virginia Senators to Save the James!

    December 14, 2016

    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.

  • Dominion towers would mar scenery of the James River

    October 13, 2016

    photo by: Kris Weinhold

    In a recent op-ed published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, National Trust President and CEO Stephanie Meeks responded to claims that Dominion's proposed transmission lines will not disrupt the historic integrity of the James River and surrounding sites.

    Here's a sample:

    In his recent Op/Ed column, “Preserving our past, enriching our future,” Dominion CEO Robert M. Blue voiced his appreciation for Virginia’s history while addressing the company’s proposed transmission line project across the James River. Unfortunately, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Virginia, the National Park Service and many other national and regional preservation and conservation organizations have pointed out, Dominion’s proposal in fact threatens to harm some of the most historically significant sites in the commonwealth. As a result, just this week, the James River was included among the Trust’s annual list of 11 most endangered historic sites in the country.

    Blue spends much time trying to minimize the transmission line’s potential impacts. But the proposed line would route 17 towers up to 295 feet tall — towers almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty — across the river where visitors from around the world come to experience early American history. This line would negatively impact Colonial National Park, Jamestown Island, Carter’s Grove Plantation, and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. We owe it to future generations to prevent this from happening.

    You can read the full op-ed at the Richmond Times-Dispatch site and find out more about James River 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 powerline from Skiffes Creek to Whealton.

  • NPS Director Jarvis: Protect Jamestown from Threat of Power Line Disruption

    September 29, 2016

    photo by: James River Association

    Since declaring the James River a National Treasure, the Trust has worked hard to find alternatives to Dominion Power's efforts to construct new power lines, some as tall as the Statue of Liberty, within the historic triangle near Jamestown, Virginia.

    While much of our work has happened through meetings and hearings, we also conducted a month-long campaign to bring awareness to the issue to residents of the region as well as nationally. As the fight continues, we were pleased to see a column by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this week.

    Within in the column, Director Jarvis demonstrates that his support for the cause is personal:

    "Like any native-born Virginian, I like to tout my roots in the commonwealth. In the spring of 1620, the English ship Diana landed at Jamestown, and one of the 80 street kids who had been rounded up and shipped to the new land was John Jarvis. He survived the famine, and started a line of Jarvis families, who moved over the Blue Ridge in 1770 and into the Shenandoah Valley where I was born in 1953.

    In the fourth grade I learned my Virginia history, which is our nation’s history, starting at Jamestown with famous people like Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, Powhatan and John Rolfe. In high school I worked at Natural Bridge, learning of its survey by George Washington and ownership by Thomas Jefferson. I attended the historic College of William and Mary, deepening my appreciation for both history and nature, often spending time on the James and York rivers and following the new archeological discoveries at Jamestown. I know these experiences led me to a 40-year career with the National Park Service, where I now serve as the director."

    And he closes with a strong argument:

    "Jamestown has been nobly preserved by the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia for more than 400 years and in partnership with the National Park Service since 1940. Each successive generation of Virginians, as well as countless visitors from across the nation and around the world, have been able to stand on that sacred ground at Jamestown and look downriver, feeling the isolation and challenges our first citizens experienced.

    If the proposed power line moves forward, that historic view will be overrun with towers, power lines and blinking lights. There are other viable alternatives to the route of Dominion’s power line, but there is only one Jamestown, and we must protect it from this threat of permanent loss."

    Join Director Jarvis and the National Trust by pledging your support to protect the James River!

  • Support HB 908 and Stop the Power Lines!

    January 14, 2016

    The National Trust and our allies in the Down to the Wire campaign are still fighting to make sure that an alternative to Dominion Virginia Power’s proposal to build a high voltage transmission line across the James River at Jamestown is chosen. Federal and state permit decisions are still pending, as is a decision by James City County government on a requested zoning change, and the National Trust remains actively involved in these review processes.

    One permit that Dominion has been successful in securing was from Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC), the state agency responsible for regulating utilities. The National Trust participated in an attempt to appeal this permit approval at the Virginia Supreme Court. Ultimately, the court determined that the SCC satisfied state law requirements in making the decision to approve the route of the line over the James River. When Jamestown is not protected by state law, it is time to improve that law.

    This week HB 908 was introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. If passed, this bill would require the SCC to make a reasonable effort to avoid historic, scenic, and environmental resources. While this bill is too late to impact the James River fight, it would avoid the need to fight against destructive transmission line proposals in the future.

    It is critical that Virginia state law better protect its historic resources so that they are available for future generations to experience and enjoy. The National Trust for Historic Preservation believes HB 908 achieves this important goal. To learn more about the bill, please click here.

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