Make way for power lines

Published 10:39 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

IVOR — Dominion Virginia Power wants to start clearing land in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties for new power lines this spring, according to representatives with the company.

DVP plans to build a 500-kilovolt transmission line between substations in Carson and Suffolk, a distance of about 60 miles. The company also plans to build a 230-kilovolt line from Suffolk to the Thrasher substation in Chesapeake, 21.5 miles away.

Elizabeth Harper, a siting and permitting specialist with DVP, said in an e-mail that the company would like to start clearing the right-of-way in early spring, begin erecting steel towers to support the power lines next fall, and have the entire project completed by the spring of 2011.

Charles Penn, media and community relations manager with DVP, cited the same dates and added that the company was “already surveying the area and creating plats there and acquiring right-of-way.”

In Southampton and Isle of Wight, the proposed route will mostly follow the path of an existing 115-kilovolt line, separating and rejoining in several places along the way in order to avoid homes and intersections.

But deviation from the 115-kilovolt line’s right-of-way, according to DVP maps, appears greatest in the Ivor area.

Harper said the power company does not have a map of just the proposed route at this time.

“Everything we have submitted to the SCC has been very detailed maps or aerials,” Harper said, referring to the State Corporation Commission, which approved the project Oct. 31. “The closest thing we have is the map we used for the project notice that shows both the alternate and proposed route. That is at such a small scale, changes we have made to the route would not be significantly noticeable.”

Harper said the right-of-way for the new 500-kilovolt line would be 150 feet.

“However, when we are able to parallel other lines, the amount of additional right-of-way required ranges from 100 to 115 feet because lines can share some of the same edge of right-of-way,” Harper said.

The 230-kilovolt line from Suffolk to Chesapeake would be constructed on existing right-of-way, Harper said.

“We are currently surveying the line route to produce the easement plats required for easement negotiations,” Harper said. “Environmental studies are also taking place to determine wetlands, archaeological sites, and special species and/or habitats.”

Signs that survey crews have already marched through the Ivor area abound. Pink plastic ribbons and wood stakes can be seen near the existing 115-kilovolt line along Seacock Chapel Road and Tucker Swamp Road. At locations along New Road and Ivor Road, about one mile outside of the town limits, additional ribbons, stakes and metal ground markers show where the new power line might go around Ivor.

Some of those markers are on land owned by L.A. Brantley Jr.

“I don’t want (my woods) cut,” Brantley said, looking over a DVP map of the Ivor area that shows his 12 acres of woods and six acres of cropland. “I’m gonna lose half of my woods. (Those) timberwoods … are gonna be dead forever.”

Brantley said that he met with DVP surveyors and told them that he would prefer that the power company modify the right-of-way for the new power line so that it went over his fields, not through his woods.

“I don’t want them coming through the block of woods,” Brantley said. “That’s the way I told them I would like them to come. I would agree to that, but I’m not going to agree to this.”

Brantley said that he had met with appraisers for DVP, and that he would meet next with negotiators, presumably for the amount of compensation he will receive for having any land or woods cut for the project.

“I’m sure they will (compensate me), but I don’t want them to cut to start with,” Brantley said. “If I did I would have cut them a long time ago. They’ll destroy this piece of timber.”

It wasn’t clear if DVP planned to spare some or all of Brantley’s woods, some of which he says are 150 to 200-year-old oak and pine trees.

Penn said that currently there are only two modifications to the proposed route. Those route changes were both in Suffolk: the first around the proposed $325 million CenterPoint warehousing center, and the second involves the Westport Commerce Park.

DVP says the 82-mile-long project is necessary in order to meet the future power demands of South Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.