A US appeals court has vacated Dominion Energy’s permit for the $430m Surry-Skiffes Creek Transmission Line project in Virginia, days after it was commissioned.

Dominion Energy

Image: The Surry-Skiffes Creek transmission line view from College Creek Beach off Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg. Photo: courtesy of Dominion Energy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that federal legal requirements were not followed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in their approval of the Surry-Skiffes Creek Transmission Line project.

The court has now directed the Army Corps to prepare a fresh Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the transmission project. The project saw the construction of a 12.4km power transmission line across the James River from the Surry switchyard to the new Skiffes Creek switching station in James City County along with 17 towers.

The Skiffes Creek Transmission project is capable of serving 600,000 residents in the Virginia Peninsula.

National Treasure, the National Trust, Preservation Virginia and others have been opposing the transmission project for six years or so on grounds that it would permanently damage the integrity of the cultural landscape of the James River and its surrounding places.

The National Trust and Preservation Virginia initiated a lawsuit against the Army Corps alleging that the federal agency issued the permit to the Surry-Skiffes Creek Transmission Line project without an EIS, thereby violating the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

National Trust for Historic Preservation interim president and CEO Paul Edmondson said: “Preserving the James River and powering the surrounding region aren’t mutually exclusive. Had the Army Corps followed the law, a project alternative that delivers power and preserves this nationally significant landscape could have been identified.”

The National Trust said that it plans to see that Dominion Energy deconstruct the towers and come up with an alternative solution that will protect the historic landscape and natural resources along the James River.

Dominion Energy said that it was disappointed with the judgment made by the court given that it dismisses the effort of four years of environmental assessment spent by the Army Corps on the transmission project.

The company, in a statement, said: “We’re committed to providing reliable, clean energy. Putting this line into service earlier this week is the culmination of years of regulatory, environmental and community engagement.

“During the entirety of the construction process we worked to protect the environment in all of our operations. We will continue to keep reliability and environmental stewardship at the forefront as we evaluate the court’s decision and determine our course of action.”