Background on the TrAIL Line

(The following text was written prior to approval of the TrAIL Line)

The 500-kV transmission line proposed by Dominion Virginia Power and Allegheny Power (through their subsidiary TrAILCo) would begin in Western Pennsylvania, cross through West Virginia, and end in Loudoun County, Virginia. In Virginia it would pass through the Meadow Brook Substation in Frederick County on its way to the Arcola Substation in Loudoun County.

The 10-16 story-tall transmission line would cut through private land, public open space, neighborhoods, historic sites, historic districts, magnificent viewsheds and a high concentration of conservation easements. In Virginia alone the transmission line would impact Frederick, Warren, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Fauquier, Prince William and Loudoun Counties. In addition, approval of the transmission line would lead to increasing reliance on remote coal-fired power plants in the Ohio River Valley with continuing or increasing transmission congestion, transmission losses and environmental damage.

Dominion and Allegheny’s proposal is unnecessary, expensive and would ultimately leave the grid more vulnerable. Furthermore, simple alternatives that have significantly less impact are available to the power companies to meet the electricity needs of Northern Virginia for today and into the future.

Dominion and TrAILCo have applied to the State Corporation Commission for permission to construct the line. Their applications are being challenged by numerous parties (including Piedmont Environmental Council) in cases before the VA SCC – Cases PUE-2007-00031 and PUE-2007-00033. The Dominion/Allegheny proposal is also being contested in front of the state utility commissions of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

On December 4, 2007 Piedmont Environmental Council filed expert testimony in opposition to the transmission line with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Expert witnesses from other groups also filed their testimony in opposition, including the testimony of 8 electrical engineers and 3 energy economists. These filings represent a landmark effort on the behalf of citizens, local organizations and local governments to oppose a transmission line that experts have concluded is not necessary.