About a year ago, Dominion, the main provider of electricity in the state of Virginia, expressed their idea to build power lines and a switching station over and near the Historic Triangle. The lines, if built over the river, would be seen by any and all visitors to Jamestown Settlement, and constantly by the owners of private real estate along the James.
Over the last ten years, the Tidewater area has grown quite substantially; so much so that the original planning for the lines’ necessity to be built moved from 2019 to 2015. As stated in a recently released case file regarding the lines, “Dominion Virginia Power stated that electric power flow studies conducted with PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”), projected that by the summer of 2015, the Company’s transmission facilities will violate mandatory North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) Reliability Standards and that the failure to address these projected violations could lead to loss of service and potential damage to the Company’s electrical facilities…”(Skirpan, Jr). This is possibly due to the retiring of the Yorktown switching station, which, upon closing, will greatly affect the efficiency of providing electricity effectively throughout the area. However, Dominion has been given a great deal of trouble in the context that the local do not want the lines visible.
As a resident of Williamsburg, I live literally ten minutes from the Surry-Williamsburg Ferry and the entrance to Jamestown. I, like many other locals, occasionally visit the historic views that my city offers me; strolls through Colonial Williamsburg on nice days, getting ice cream at Yorktown after walking the beaches, and even day trips to Jamestown with my extended family on vacation. I like the idea that I can stand on the docks at Jamestown, looking over the replicas of the three boats that brought the original settlers to the area, and see naught but water, trees, and sea birds. I do not, however, like the idea that, as I’m walking past the church and towards the museum, I will also be able to see the signs of industrialization looming over one of the most important parts of America’s history: the James River.
Through May 8th, 2013, the Commission received a substantial number of people both opposing and promoting the lines. Those in opposition of the lines include the College of William and Mary, the City of Williamsburg, and Preservation Virginia. In addition, 95 public comments support the idea of submerging the lines, and 741 public comments on a Change.org online petition voted to stop the overheading of the line. Of the 741, a solid 600 of the comments were from Virginia alone, the rest as a result of both other states and, surprisingly, 17 foreign counties (Skirpan, Jr.).
The local population understands the need for the lines; however, we believe that, in order to preserve the historical sites and tourism in our area, the lines must go under the James, or be built somewhere else. The main problem is that Dominion claims there is not the technology to currently do this. One must read between the lines on their accusation. Power lines have indeed been built underwater; it IS possible. It just has not been done on such a broad scale. The section Dominion plans on covering is about 4 miles in length, a distance seemingly absurd to test run relatively new technology.
Skirpan, Jr., Alexander. N.p.. Web. 19 Sep 2013. <https://www.dom.com/about/electric-transmission/skiffes/pdf/he-rpt-080213.pdf>.