The state of Virginia is well known for its history; after all, our great nation started here in Historic Jamestown. Those who have visited this wonderful area have seen the grounds many battles have been fought on, the original sight of the town built over 400 years ago, and have sat in the very church the colonists prayed in. Next to this historic site runs the James River, one of the key trading routes in the early life of America.
The area is still as beautiful as it had been all those years ago. James City County prides itself in keeping the local history of the Tidewater area relatively untouched by modern societies; anyone who has visited these areas know the lack of air conditioning in the summer, the distant walks to the local bathroom facilities the further one gets into the historic areas, and that there are very few paved roads. The area is well maintained and kept clean, and is a staple for many wildlife species.
However, about a year ago in June, Dominion, the primary provider of electricity in Virginia and practically a monopoly, proposed plans to extend power lines across the James River before their Yorktown plant is retired, and build a new switching station at Skiffes Creek. The extension is necessary, with the amount of growth on the peninsula has seen over the last decade alone. The company claims that, in order to provide emergency power to the Hampton Roads area, the new lines must go down, and they refused to upgrade the Richmond route to provide more power to the area (Langley).
Dominion most likely did not realize that a statement spoken with such nonchalance would ultimately bring community members of the historic areas, conservationists, and the local towns of Williamsburg, Yorktown, James City and Surry against them. Many of these stakeholders consider the idea of the lines fairly unsightly amongst real estate owners along the James, and fear it would hurt tourism visiting the Historic Triangle, which is a primary source of income in the area. The locals support and understand that the lines are necessary; however, they asked Dominion to find another way to put the lines down, and proposed that they go under—rather than over—the river.
Whereas this seemed like the obvious course of action amongst many of the tax payers in the area, Dominion strongly opposed it. The company claimed that “the technology doesn’t exist” to bury the lines to that extent, and that, through a recent legislation, Virginia code 15.2-2404 Section F, the brunt of the cost would be put upon the locals themselves (Voll).
It seems like a logical opposition; however, “the Surry-Skiffes Creek line is just a piece of a 14-state project”, as explained by Brittany Voll, a writer for WYDaily and local news site for the Williamsburg-Yorktown area. She quotes Roberts District Supervisor John McGlennon: “this project would be constructed as part of a consortium of power companies covering some 14 states, and the cost would be spread across the entire base of customers over the 60-year life span of the lines.” McGlennon continued to question Dominion’s creditable information, claiming the proposed $390 million to install underwater power lines is greatly exaggerated (“Is…”).
Dominion has greatly encouraged the public to allow the lines over the water, claiming they would be harder to maintain, and would take longer to install if even possible. The company has expressed a deadline of August 2015 to have the lines completed, a driving force in their argument. The locals continue to fight adamantly against them, pushing the project back even more by attempting to force Dominion to get a special-use permit to actually start construction on the Skiffes Creek Switching station (“JCC…”).
Langley, Cortney. “Lines over James River Won’t Fly.” Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg] 11 Apr. 2012: n. pag. Print.
Voll, Brittany. “JCC Submits Court Petition to Block Proposed Power Line Over James River.” Williamsburg Yorktown Daily. N.p., 21 July 2013. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.
Voll, Brittany. “Is Burying Proposed Power Line Across James an Option?” Williamsburg Yorktown Daily. N.p., 14 Dec. 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.