By Gracie Hart Brooks Courtesy of Madison County Eagle
For the past few weeks, Dominion contractors have been constructing the foundations and erecting monopoles alone Route 15 in Orange as part of the Remington-Gordonsville transmission upgrade. This is part off the first phase of the project and includes a 4.5 mile stretch from Orange to near the Macmillan Publishing Services facility on Route 15. Pictured are the monopoles and lines that are replacing the older and more modest wooden frame construction.
After years of planning and public meetings, construction has begun on Dominion’s Remington-Gordonsville transmission project.
Approved and authorized by the State Corporation Commission in late August 2017, the project will upgrade the existing 115kV transmission line from Remington to Gordonsville to a 230kV line and switch the existing 53-foot wooden H-frame structures to 103-107-foot tall steel monopoles. The new monopoles require a 100-foot right-of-way, which was already existing in some portions and had to be obtained in others where the width was only 70 feet.
In order to maintain reliability throughout the construction of the project, it was split into six phases, the first of which is expected to be completed at the end of November. The first phase includes two sections—one 0.3 mile length near Mitchells and a 4.5 mile stretch from Orange to near the Macmillan Publishing Services facility on Rt. 15.
Poles are already up in Orange and Dominion Virginia Power Senior Communications Specialist Rob Richardson said workers begin pulling wire last week. However, the next phase may prove to be more difficult.
The second phase is expected to begin this month and includes 11.2 miles from Orange to Mitchells. It’s expected to be complete by Dec. 1, 2019, and includes a potential section of a shorter H-frame structure.
As part of the SCC’s approval, Dominion was granted the flexibility to utilize shorter structures where feasible along 24.1 miles of the approximately 38-mile stretch. That option was narrowed down to a 4.5-mile segment of the project located in the Rapidan area of Orange County along Clark Mountain. It was the only route that received enough votes along a continuous stretch via mailed postcards to meet a minimum 3-mile length requirement.
In order to utilize the shorter structures, the right-of-way would need to be expanded to 140 feet and doing so has proved to be a complicated process.
Originally, Dominion had a Sept. 1 deadline to conclude easement negotiations for the expanded right-of-way. However, according to Dominion Electric Transmission Communications Manager Greg Mathe, the process has taken longer than expected. A new deadline of Oct. 1 was issued.
“After reviewing the options available, a brief extension to Oct. 1 balances the community’s and company’s desire to implement the shorter structure option with the need to complete the entire project by the June 2020 in-service date,” Mathe wrote in a letter to landowners Aug. 28. “However, the company’s construction timeline remains constrained due to material order lead times and prearranged power line outage sequencing; therefore, no further extensions are possible.”
Mathe wrote that if the deadline wasn’t met, Dominion would move forward with the monopole option in its existing right-of-way.
“This is the outcome we prefer to avoid, but it is a reality that cannot be overlooked as we must meet our regulatory obligations to provide reliable power in a timely maanner,” he wrote.
It’s unknown if the October 1st deadline was met.
Phase three, a fine mile segment from Remington to Brandy Station, is also supposed to start this fall and be completed by May 17, 2019. Phase four, five miles from Brandy Station to Mountain Run, would then begin in Spring 2019 and be finished by Dec. 1, 2019, followed by phase five, 6.6 miles from Mountain Run to Mitchells. Phase five also includes a 2-mile segment from Somerset to Gordonsville, with a start date of fall 2019 and completion of March 1, 2020, and a 0.8 mile reconductor construction near Louisa from fall 2019 to March 1, 2020. The project will end with phase six from near MPS to Somerset with construction expected to begin in the winter of 2019 and be completed by May 31, 2020.
Property owners along each phase of the project will be invited to a construction information session prior to it beginning. Those alone phase one were invited to a meeting July 17 in the Town of Orange Public Works building.
For more information about the project, visit https://www.dominionenergy.com/about-us/electric-projects/power-line-projects/remington-gordonsville-project.
Editors Note: Keswick Life has learned a group of property owners and other concerned citizens have begun to gather to assess the threat to Keswick farms and lands. As news on what can be done unfolds, we will keep you posted. The group plans to lead the fight to protect Keswick environs but pressuring Dominion Energy to bury the lines as to preserve the beautiful countryside in this historic area.