Return to story

Dahlgren to get power boost

May 6, 2011 12:15 am


Dominion Virginia Power wants to build a new high-voltage line to provide more electricity to the Dahlgren Navy base and the community around it.

The overhead line would be about 10 miles long and run from an existing line on State Route 3 to a new substation, to be built on base at the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren.

The project is estimated to cost about $30 million, said Dave Pelkey, Dominion's projects manager.

"We're doing all we can to meet the Navy's load," Pelkey told the King George supervisors this week. "But the load is getting to the point the line can't handle it any longer."

That's why Dominion wants to install the transmission line by May 2014.

Supervisor Joe Grzeika, who's also a consultant in Dahlgren, told Pelkey he was "really impressed with the timeline." He'd heard rumors it would take 10 to 15 years to build.

Gary Wagner, spokesman for the Navy base, said a high-voltage line would benefit operations. Several projects under research require additional electricity, such as an electromagnetic railgun, designed to destroy a target up to 200 nautical miles away.

Currently, there aren't regular outages in the Dahlgren area, Wagner said. But because the base is at the end of Dominion's line, a downed tree along the Route 3 corridor can hamper operations on base.

"When there is an outage, there's no backup other than what resources we have on base," Wagner said. "We do have some building generators that will keep critical operations functioning, but they don't serve all of the power needs of the base."

Dominion officials said the new line is needed, not just for the Navy, but for other growth in the Dahlgren area. That includes two major facilities being built on U.S. 301. A new Walmart is set to open in the fall, followed by the University of Mary Washington's Dahlgren Education and Research Center, scheduled to open in January.

Even without those two major additions, Dahlgren's demand for electricity increased 55 percent from 2001, according to Dominion.

That's compared to a 40 percent population increase overall for King George County from 2000 to 2010.

The new 230-kilovolt transmission line would be a "super highway" providing power, said Carla Picard, Dominion's communication manager.

Dominion typically identifies five or six routes for the line, then picks the one with the least impact on homeowners and environmental features such as eagles' nests and wetlands, Pelkey said.

Homeowners on whose property the line is built get a one-time payment from Dominion. They still own the property but grant right-of-way easement to Dominion.

After a route is selected, Dominion notifies affected landowners and invites them to an open house. That would probably be held in spring 2013.

About the same time, the power company would meet with community leaders, including representatives from Caledon State Park and the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail.

The new line would start somewhere along the Route 3 corridor, from Oak Grove to Igo Road, and run north to the Dahlgren base. The new substation would be built on the base near Gate B, at U.S. 301 and Bennion Road.

Construction would begin in summer 2013 and finish in May 2014, according to Dominion's timeline.

The Dahlgren project is one of several in the works for Dominion. It's currently in the middle of a $1.7 billion, two-year process to improve service to 2.4 million electrical customers in Virginia.

Dominion serves 8,000 businesses and homes in King George.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.