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  1. What is the Norris Bridge controversy?
  2. Who is objecting?
  3. Don’t the present lines need to be replaced?
  4. What are the alternatives to the towers?
  5. What about the cost of underwater lines?
  6. I don’t want to pay more for my electricity.
  7. What is the status of this project?
  8. Aren’t there some environmental studies?
  9. What are our state representatives doing?
  10. Dominion's Credibility Chart

1.   What is the Norris Bridge controversy?

Dominion Power (DP) is on a fast track to replace the current transmission lines that are attached to the Norris Bridge with upgraded lines on 14 new overhead transmission towers of steel and concrete, up to 179' tall, next to the bridge. The visual degradation to the acclaimed views of the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay when driving over the Norris Bridge would be lost permanently.

Two-thirds of the bridge crossing now is unobstructed by lines. The Norris Bridge crossing is cited as among the finest views of coastal water in Virginia and the east coast of the US.
(See Letters to the Editor)

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2.   Who is objecting?

Businesses, residents, visitors, boaters, and everyone who cherishes the Rappahannock River, the Chesapeake Bay, and our coastal lifestyle. The region's economic engine is dependent of tourism - which is dependent on our ability to preserve the natural assets which draw visitors and retirees to the area.

The Board of Supervisors in both Lancaster and Middlesex counties, and the towns of Kilmarnock, Urbanna and Irvington have passed resolutions opposing the overhead transmission towers. Local busineses and community groups oppose Dominion's plan (see Local Partners.)

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3.   Don’t the present lines need to be replaced? We might lose power if they fail.

All agree that replacement of the lines is welcome. However power will not be lost if these lines fail. They are redundant power lines. The primary source of power for the Northern Neck is not on the bridge. Both power sources (the primary and the redundant lines over the Rappahannock River) would have to fail to lose power.

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4.   What are alternatives to the steel towers?

The elected officials of the surrounding counties support underground lines. Horizontal directional drilling methods are preferred for river crossings in many states because of its increased reliability and minimal impact on the environment.

Another alternative, not supported by the Virginia Department of Transportation because of the age of the bridge, is to place the lines along the side of the bridge, similar to the present position but using current technology.

Horizontal Drilling Method

Lines on bridge

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5.   What about the cost of underground lines?

Dominion Power has not done an analysis of the cost to do horizontal directional drilling under the Rappahannock. Comparisons with the cost of the lines under the York River would allow an estimate well below what Dominion has suggested.

Cost comparison should include the maintenance costs over the life span of the project. Overhead power lines on tall towers are subject to our corrosive salt environment, storms, lightning strikes, microbursts and waterspouts, as well as bird damage (a problem Dominion has identified on the existing power lines.)

Also, the proposed towers and lines over the Rappahannock are more difficult and time-consuming to repair compared to land towers.

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6.   I don’t want to pay more for my electricity.

The cost of projects of this nature is distributed state-wide and would have a minimal impact on rates. We are now paying for underground projects throughout the state.

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7.   What is the status of this project?

On July 22 the SCC Hearing Examiner directed Dominion Virginia Power to conduct further studies on two additional methods to cross the Rappahannock River. The Order was issued over Dominion's objections in response to a Motion by William Barnhart which was supported by Lancaster County and Save the Rappahannock. The continuation of public hearings is still scheduled for September 20 in Richmond. An evidentiary hearing wll be held March 1, 2017, and full Commission review will be posponed until after that hearing and the release of the Hearing Examiner's recommendation.

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8.   Aren’t there some environmental studies?

Initially Dominion Power employed "desktop database" studies related to marine resources.

•   The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has deferred to the Corps of Engineers.

•   The Corps of Engineers (COE) has a nationwide permit to exempt transmission towers from review. The COE has waived the project through.

•   The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR"Conservation is a state of harmony between man and the land") recommended whatever DGIF recommended because the project is in the Norris Bridge Conservation Site.

•   The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) recommended the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service look at Atlantic Sturgeon in the river. They also recommended time constraints to pile-driving to reduce the adverse effect of construction on the peregrine falcons nesting on the bridge (if there are eggs). Alternatively: move the nest. They also recommend efforts to diminish the sound impact of pile-driving on fish.

•   The VMRC looked at the impact on the river bottom (their jurisdiction) served as the coordination point for all the agencies' comments. They were given an inchoate application with insufficient analysis of alternatives. Commissioners acted on an all-or-nothing presentation and approved Dominion Power's application. The justification for approval is outlined in their staff summary. Their decision is on appeal.

•   The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) regulates transmission line projects. Detailed guidelines of minimum requirements are applied to electrical transmission line cases. Section III requires the applicant to provide information on the "impact of the line on scenic, environmental, and historic features."

In its December 11 decision the SCC enjoined the power company from construction while requiring a full application to the Commission and a complete review, including environmental, scenic assets, and economic impact.

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9.   What are our state representatives doing?

Senator McDougle sponsored a bill this year (SB 1030) to give Dominion Power the right of way to construct overhead transmission lines across the Rappahannock at Norris Bridge.

“to convey to Virginia Electric and Power Company (Dominion Virginia Power) an easement and rights-of-way needed for constructing and maintaining an overhead electric transmission line across the Rappahannock River in Middlesex and Lancaster Counties.”

In contrast, a 2011 bill by Senator McDougle (SB 921) for crossing the Piankatank River

“to Virginia Electric and Power Company (Dominion Virginia Power), for the purpose of installing and operating a submarine electric distribution cable system.”

Also, Senator McDougle sent a joint letter to the VMRC, co-signed by Delegate Ransone and Delegate Hodges supporting the upgrade to the existing line. The letter does not say that the project is overhead transmission towers.

Stop and Ask:

Who is representing the scenic and economic assets within our community?

Who established an Oyster Trail here - and a Captain John Smith Trail, a Winery Trail and an Artisan Trail - but now allows a monopoly to insert an industrial eyesore in their paths

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10.   Dominion's Credibility Chart

Click to enlarge
Arguments against Dominion

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