Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:


Virginia Electric & Power Company, Owner

Virginia Electric & Power Company d.b.a. Dominion Virginia Power, Applicant


October 13, 2005


Staff Lead:


Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning



Community Development


Magisterial District:


Cedar Run




7848-19-6462-000 & 7848-29-2318-000




Special Exception (SPEX06-CR-001) for a New 500 kV Switching Station (Bristers Station) and A Comprehensive Plan Conformance Determination (CCRV06-CR-002) for the Proposed Switching Station


Topic Description:


Dominion Virginia Power has made application to the State Corporation Commission for authorization to construct:


1)      A new 500 kV transmission line approximately 8 miles long, entirely within existing right-of-way and parallel to the existing Morrisville-Loudoun 500 kV line from the company’s existing Morrisville substation to a proposed 500 kV switching station in Bristersburg;

2)      Approximately 4 new structures outside the fence at the Morrisville substation in connection with the reconfiguration of the termination of the existing 500 kV lines to accommodate the new 500 kV line; and

3)      The new 500 kV Bristers Switching station to be located on land previously acquired by the company.


The Special Exception request is for item 3 above - the new Bristers Switching Station and future substation equipment that will eventually be located within the same fenced area.  Dominion Virginia Power has owned this property since the 1970’s.  The site is currently crossed by two (2) existing 500 kV lines and, according to the applicant, it is electrically a natural junction point for such a facility.  The proposed Bristers 500 kV switching station will be built to split one of the existing lines that crosses the site, and become a terminating point for the new 500 kV line from Morrisville, creating a three breaker ring.




The ends of transmission circuits terminate in switching stations and/or substations.  Equipment at these facilities sense faults on the transmission lines and open the lines to protect the system.  If a circuit is temporarily out of service, other circuits connected to the station can carry the additional load and maintain the power flows needed to serve electric customers.  The proposed new line and station will maintain and enhance the reliability of the electric transmission grid.  According to the applicant, the facility is necessary to assure the company’s 500 kV transmission facilities in Virginia’s Northern Piedmont Region will continue to meet projected load growth in a manner consistent with North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) reliability contingency guidelines for transmission facilities.


According to the applicant, if this facility were not built and there was a loss of a portion of the bulk power system, it would not only impact the applicant’s customers, it would impact customers in adjoining utilities including electric cooperatives such as those that serve a large portion of Fauquier County.  Both Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) serve portions of Fauquier County and depend entirely on Dominion’s transmission system to transfer bulk power to their substations.




The switching station will be a fenced and graveled area (all within Dominion Virginia property).  It includes installation of three (3) 500 kV breakers, three (3) 500 kV backbone structures, a control enclosure, aluminum bus, steel support structures and other ancillary equipment as required.  To accommodate future transmission needs, the site is planned for two (2) future 500 kV lines and three (3) future 230 kV lines when they are required.  Eventually, one bank of 500-230 kV transformers consisting of four (4) single phase units will be required at the site.  The new switching station is designed to accommodate the future proposed facilities with minimal impact.  The site will be graded and fenced such that the future facilities will not require expansion of the station.


This site will be a continuously operating unmanned facility.  Approximately five (5) trips per week would be made to the site.  Control equipment will be housed in appropriate enclosures.  Two 250 watt, HPS 120 V, Photoelectric control lights with recessed lenses that are rated “dark sky friendly” by the manufacturer, and two (2) porch type lights on each side of the control enclosure will be installed.


Site Selection:


This site was selected due to its close proximity to the existing transmission lines to each other and the electrical hub that it creates.  There is no other location in Fauquier County that is comparable to it.  The property is not conducive to other uses as it already contains 500 kV lines on both its east and west sides.  The fenced area has been located to the rear of the property to remove it from roadside view, make use of the area most constructable, and to avoid the wetlands.  Because the facility will be located between the existing transmission lines, no existing homes will be closer than they presently are to existing lines.


There are wooded areas on the site, some of which will be cleared for the new station and the new 500 kV line entering the station.  Landscaping is proposed at the site; however, because of clearance issues related to overhead lines, Dominion must exclude trees from those areas under the lines.  The applicant is currently investigating the possibility of adding additional screening off site to help buffer views from adjacent homes.   


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:


Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached resolution.


Please note that staff has prepared two (2) resolutions.  The first, a Resolution to Deny, is based on the Planning Commission recommendation.  The second, a Resolution to Approve, with Special Exception conditions, is also provided should the Board consider that option.


Planning Commission Recommendation:


On September 29, 2005 the Planning Commission recommended denial (the vote was 3 to 2) of the Special Exception and found the proposal not to be in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.  Their rationale was based on the location of the facility within Fauquier County and whether an alternative location had been considered outside of the County as well as the effects of the facility on adjacent property owners.


Financial Impact Analysis:




Land Area, Location and Zoning:    


The property is located on the southwest side of Cromwell Road (Route 639) southwest of its intersection with Bristersburg Road (Route 616).  A map is shown below outlined in orange.  Virginia Electric & Power Company utility easement corridors show in light blue.








Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:


The property is currently zoned Rural Agricultural (RA) and is surrounded by property zoned RA.  Consistent with this zoning category, this property is located in a district that contains the areas where agriculture and forestry are the predominant uses or where significant agricultural lands or large lot type residential development exists.


Staff Analysis:

Staff and the appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations.  Findings, comments, and recommendations are available upon request.


Comprehensive Plan Compliance:


The applicant has requested a Virginia Code Section 15.2 – 2232 review for the Planning Commission to make a determination that the proposed utility use is in conformance with the County’s Comprehensive Plan.  Staff believes the Board should consider the Planning Commission’s input as well as the location of the proposed facilities within existing right-of-way to be a factor to determine whether the facilities are in conformance and thus, permissible.


Summary and Recommendations:


SPEX06-CR-001:  Staff recommends holding a public hearing on this item.

CCRV06-CR-002: Staff notes that this item is contingent on the above Special Exception and thus, recommends holding a public hearing on this item as well.


The applicant notes that this facility will assure that the company’s 500 kV transmission facilities continue to meet projected load growth in a reliable manner consistent with North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).


Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Fauquier County Department of Community Development





1.      Statement of Justification

2.      Special Exception Plat

3.      Fauquier County Power Line Map

4.      Resolution of Approval

5.      Resolution of Denial