Sparks Fly Over the Historic James

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…”).

Works Cited:

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.

6 thoughts on “Sparks Fly Over the Historic James

  1. Cortney Barden

    No I think you did a good job giving detail to everything that was going on, since we wouldn’t know anything about the topic beforehand. I didn’t feel confused at all.

  2. Alison Tyler

    Jenny I really liked your blog entry it was very factual and down to the point with lots of information the only thing I think is missing, or I could be over looking, is your thoughts on the issue. Its definitely something to consider but more information on how you feel about the subject or how it became an issue to you would be nice to read as well. I actually know someone who works for Dominion, my sisters husband, and I am going to ask him his thoughts on this project and see what he has to say.
    -Alison T.

    1. Jenny Silva Post author

      wow, that would be really great, actually. i was hoping for an opinion on the subject matter from an inside source; one that isn’t a generalized site. I will definitely try to incorporate my view into my writing a bit more though. As you can probably see i am used to being very precise and don’t normally write 1st person based arguments. Thank you for your input.
      -Jenny Silva

    2. Cortney Barden

      My grandmother loves to go on tours to visit historical sites, and she has taken our family to Jamestown several times and I completely understand where your coming from. I feel like it would take away from the historical atmosphere. Your blog is very informative and full of detail. You did a good job making me feel like I knew what was going on even though I didn’t know anything about this beforehand.

      1. Jenny Silva Post author

        thank you for that. I feel like the James river is quite a hot topic to many Virginia students because of its historical value, and the sheer size of it, (i only recently learned/realized the James extends past Farmville!). Was there anything in the post that confused you, or perhaps needed more detail?


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