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By CATHY DYSON
A state report about Dominion Virginia Power's plan to build a new transmission line to Dahlgren gives some interesting insight into the financial and military operations at the Navy base.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission issued its hearing examiner's report last week on the project, a $36 million overhead power line that would stretch 10 miles from State Route 3 in King George County to a new substation on the base in Dahlgren.
The report also detailed comments made during a June public hearing.
Senior examiner Alexander Skirpan Jr. agreed with Dominion that the high-voltage line is needed and recommended SCC approval.
He made two slight modifications. At the request of King George resident Ed Veazey, Skirpan adjusted the path to avoid a subdivision owned by Veazey and others with the Limited Cleydael Partnership.
Skirpan also suggested the power poles be brown instead of galvanized gray.
Beyond color schemes, the 30-page report spelled out the base's value to the county, region and world. And how big a component electricity is in the mix.
The Navy base "contains the largest concentration of scientists and engineers in the commonwealth" whose work is "critical to the future of our national defense," said Michael Hudson, a director of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council.
He and Gene Bailey, president of the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance, said an electrical infrastructure is critical to supporting the growing research and development efforts.
Capt. Pete Nette, commanding officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac, listed the staggering numbers of contracts and people at the base.
The combined payroll is more than $470 million annually, with Naval Support Facility Dahlgren accounting for another $600 million in contracts with corporations and businesses in the region.
The base has $23 million worth of military construction under way to support new programs, Nette said.
Also, Nette said the base employs 4,700 civilians, more than 2,500 defense contractors and more than 500 uniformed personnel.
In a letter to the SCC, Capt. Michael Smith, commanding officer of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, said power outages in 2011 caused a significant loss of productivity.
Those would get worse without more voltage. The base expects to exceed Dominion's existing capacity by 2014. And that's without the additional electricity needed to power the railgun, which may be the Navy's most formidable weapon.
The railgun works by a pulse of electricity traveling along two parallel rails. It propels missiles at a tremendous rate--five times the speed of sound.
Hudson also told the SCC that the Dahlgren base almost lost hundreds of jobs in 1995 as part of the base realignment and closure process, and that the base "remains vulnerable to future closures."
Dominion officials said they were pleased with how quickly the SCC examiner published his report. The next major milestone is receiving final approval from the SCC, said Carla Picard, Dominion's communication manager.
The company hopes to acquire needed rights of way this fall, then begin construction in the spring. The goal for project completion is May 2014.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425