Idylwood residents share distress over Dominion substation project delays

The State Corporation Commission is reviewing whether Dominion Energy could extend a substation project that has frustrated, irked, and baffled residents to 2026.

Hearing officer Ann Berkebile said Thursday (June 10) that she will issue a report following public testimony in which residents detailed their frustrations over a project to rebuild the Idylwood Substation on Shreve Road.

“The first thing I want to note is how disheartening it is to be contemplating construction in our community until December 2026,” said Lori Jeffrey, president of Holly Crest Community Association, further saying delays and excuses from Dominion have occurred throughout the project and residents have learned to not accept the company’s statements at face value.

Dominion didn’t respond Friday to a request for comment. Attorneys for the company as well as county and other parties didn’t question witnesses when given the opportunity at Thursday’s hearing. Fairfax County didn’t address a media inquiry by press time.

Approved by the county in 2015 and the SCC in September 2017, the project calls for rebuilding, relocating, and replacing facilities and lines in and around the existing substation.

Dominion has said the proposed enhancements will “provide seamless, reliable power to Fairfax County, the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax and support the energy needs of the Metrorail.”

In justifying the extension, the utility company has cited the complexity of the project as well as lengthier permitting processes than expected and acknowledged that it underestimated parts of the timeline, among other factors.

“The Company is cognizant of the amount of time this Project has been in process and the strains the Project has placed on the surrounding community,” Dominion said in a March filing with the state detailing why it’s seeking a six-year extension.

During Thursday’s hearing, Collin Agee, a Holly Manor Drive resident, said work on the project started in 2016, five years ago.

The 2017 application approved by the state had the ability for an extension — provided it got the SCC’s approval. A May 31, 2020 deadline is currently suspended, according to the commission, a regulatory entity that has authority over utilities.

Tensions between Dominion and local interests have been developing, though, with the company proposing a new timetable to finish by Dec. 31, 2026. The project cost has also increased from around $107 million to $159 million as of February, according to the company.

The conflict continued at Thursday’s hearing, which will help the three-member commission make a determination. Hearing officer reports typically have a 21-day comment period by the formal parties in a case, according to the commission.

For homeowners like Andrew Laine and his wife, who plan to retire and relocate, that’s concerning. Laine said they previously rented their home for three years during the time the project began, and construction work behind their home led their family to say they wouldn’t have rented there if they had known about the extent of the project.

“Dominion has not been upfront with anything,” Laine said.

The three driving factors of the project are addressing power reliability regulations, increasing operational efficiency, and maximizing space for potential expansion, according to Dominion.

Dominion notes the project is located at two major overheard transmission corridors, an electrical transmission hub, and major distribution substation.

“Continuing to terminate lines and add load to the Idylwood Substation with [its current] arrangement would increase the severity of a breaker failure event,” the company said previously.

The rearrangement’s additional space could “accommodate potential future transmission terminations,” but there are no future transmission terminations and transformation planned at this time, Dominion said in the March SCC filing.

According to a Dominion project website, the existing Idylwood Station is on a 7.15-acre lot and the “existing equipment footprint” is 3.99 acres. The company seeks to reduce that equipment footprint to be around 2 acres.

Catarina Couto, the previous president of the Holly Crest Community Association, told Tysons Reporter that Dominion presented a project in 2013 with a much smaller footprint than what they were going to do. Couto said residents kept pushing for more information, and the company wasn’t forthright and honest with the neighborhood.

She asked the state at Thursday’s hearing to help neighbors in keeping the company accountable, arguing that 2026 was too long of a timetable.

“At this point, we have lost trust in Dominion’s ability to provide us with anything that is of tangible or valid information,” Cuoto said. “They have continuously pushed the agenda, they have received various…extensions, and they have caused our neighborhood great, great grief.”

Recent Stories

Existing public facilities are in red, while planned ones are blue (via Fairfax County) Fairfax County has made some progress over the past decade in introducing public amenities to support…

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected] GO…

(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) A power outage has left construction workers on a high-rise in Tysons stranded 13 stories in the air. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units are on…

The GW Parkway is being temporarily widened for a project to rehabilitate its northern section (courtesy NPS) Here’s more on what to expect during this stage of construction from NPS:…

Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.

He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

The Rhea Baker State Farm Agency is proud to support Shelter House in providing safe places to be during quarantine. Shelter House’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence. Right now they are providing over 200 hotel rooms to those in need in our community. In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served nearly 500 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of which were children.

Of the households that exited shelter, over 70% moved to permanent housing. The Baker Agency has served Vienna and Tysons residents and business owners since 2007 and proudly offers insurance solutions for you home, condo, auto insurance, life insurance and more. We offer complimentary reviews and coach teen drivers to safer, better drivers, and to help keep your auto insurance rates down! We are always happy to talk or text at 703-847-6880.

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.


Subscribe to our mailing list