A federal judge denied a lawsuit from preservation groups seeking to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s permit for the Skiffes Creek electric transmission line saying “it is evident that the Corps made a fully informed and well considered decision.” The Corps decision to grant a permit came after a thorough, four-year review process with negotiations among the Corps, Dominion Energy, and dozens of environmental, cultural and historic preservation groups.
The project entails building a 500-kilovolt line across a working section of the James River to connect to the new Skiffes Creek switching station in James City County and bring cleaner, more reliable energy to the Peninsula. It also involves building a new 230 kilovolt line in the existing right of way.
Among the highlights in this case, the plaintiffs’ argument that a longer, more involved Environmental Impact Study should be required due to the project’s proximity to historic sites and the visual impact. The court determined “none of the significance factors weigh in favor of the Plaintiffs’ contention that an EIS is required.”
The preservation groups also contended the project should be stopped because the impacts are highly controversial. The court ruled controversy is not measured merely by the intensity of the opposition. “Something more is required beside the fact that some people may be highly agitated and be willing to go to court over the matter,” the court explained. “Something more to be scientific or other evidence that reveals flaws in the methods or data relied upon by the agency in reaching its conclusions.”
“This is a significant victory, and I want to thank the dedicated, cross-disciplinary team that worked tirelessly for more than five years to obtain the approvals needed to build this critical transmission line,” said Scott Miller, vice president of Electric Transmission. “Excellent progress is already being made on construction, and we are currently on track for completion by the summer of 2019.”