Dominion’s Proposed Transmission Tower Choice Causes Controversy in Albemarle

The following email alert was sent out August 2016 regarding Dominion’s plans to rebuild the Cunningham-Dooms line and the upcoming SCC public hearing:

Dominion’s Rebuild Deserves Better Design

The proposed rebuild spans 33 miles. The existing towers vary in height between 72-149 ft and are composed of COR-TEN weathering steel that is a brown color. The proposed towers will be up to 3 stories taller and be made of a shiny galvanized steel.

Dear Citizen,

At a time when a lot of people are focused on the end of summer, there’s an important public hearing that I wanted to bring to your attention. It has to do with Dominion Power’s plans to replace the current Cunningham-Dooms 500kV transmission line that runs across the southern half of Albemarle County.

Though the line will remain in the existing right of way, there are significant concerns regarding the design and visibility of the new line; specifically the heights and color of the proposed towers that could impact the local viewshed, tourism and historic resources.

This Monday, August 8, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) will take comments at two public hearings — at 2pm and again at 7pm. This may be your last opportunity to provide comments about the proposal.

SCC Public Hearings

Monday, August 8 | 2pm or 7pm
Lane Auditorium, County Office Building, 401 McIntire Rd.

*Note: No presentation about the project will be given at these hearings. The purpose is to take public comments on the application, which is part of case PUE-2016-00020. For more background on the proposal, visit Dominion’s website and read the article published in Cville Tomorrow last month.

Ask the SCC to minimize impacts of new towers

In PEC’s experience with other transmission lines, we have sometimes seen Dominion make adjustments to reduce the impact of its projects on private and public resources, but it requires people to speak out and speak up. In a similar case in Augusta County, it was only after galvanized steel towers were used to replace an existing line, that residents realized just how important design choices can be. See the before and after photos below.

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Photos submitted as public comments to VOF. Credit Kristopher Baumann.

The existing Cunningham-Dooms transmission line towers vary in height between 72 ft and 149 ft and are composed of COR-TEN weathering steel that is a brown color intended to blend into the natural environment.

The proposed towers will be up to 3 stories taller and be made of a shiny galvanized steel, which stands out much more in the landscape. The line would impact some of the most beautiful vistas in the county and is within the viewshed of Shenandoah National Park. It crosses several miles of the Greenwood-Afton Historic District and over 6 miles of the Southern Albemarle Historic District.

Please add your voice in requesting that the heights of the new towers be no taller than the existing towers and that those towers have the less-visible, darker finish instead of the bright metal as proposed.

If you have any questions between now and the hearings, don’t hesitate to contact me.


Jeff Werner
Albemarle/Charlottesville Land Use
The Piedmont Environmental Council