Planning Commission to act on proposed power upgrade

Dominion Energy is seeking approval from Fairfax County to upgrade its existing substation at 8440 Tyco Road in Tysons. 

The Fairfax County Planning Commission on April 3 unanimously recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve Dominion Energy’s plans for upgrades at the utility’s main electrical substation in Tysons.

The facility, located on 3.29 acres at 8440 Tyco Road near the Dulles Airport Access Road, was built in 1964 and expanded in 1970. Dominion is seeking a special-exception amendment from the county government to install gas-insulated technology, which requires less space than standard air-insulated equipment.

The improvements would make the facility more efficient and less-cluttered, Dominion officials said at an earlier public hearing before the Planning Commission.

No Board of Supervisors hearind date has been set.

The gas-insulated equipment, which would be enclosed in a building, would replace older gear on the site’s western side. Three 70-foot-tall “backbones” would be replaced with a pair of 75-foot-high ones that would be placed on lower-level areas of the property.

Dominion also would remove six distribution centers, place existing distribution lines underground and install a 75-foot-tall “static pole” to protect against lightning.

“The overall look will be a little more organized and modern,” said Sheri Akin, a senior planner with McGuireWoods, who represented Dominion at the Feb. 27 hearing.

The utility would screen the substation from the surrounding area using a 12-foot-tall textured precast-concrete wall, which would replace a 7-foot-high chain-link fence that is topped with 1 foot of barbed wire.

Dominion has offered to provide landscaping at the site, including 75 new trees and 77 new shrubs, and install an 8-foot-wide sidewalk and street trees along Tyco Road.

Dominion officials are seeking the improvements to help meet future electrical demand in Tysons, relieve the load imposed on nearby substations and ensure the substation does not violate reliability standards. The improved station also will serve as the terminus for the future underground-transmission line between Idylwood Road and Tysons.

In addition to upgrading the Tyco Road facility, Dominion also plans to build a new substation south of the Spring Hill Metro Station in Tysons to further serve that urban center.

Substations take electricity provided by high-voltage transmission lines and step it down via transformers so it can be used by residential and commercial customers.

The revised plans for the Tyco Road substation include an alternative connection for the planned Greensboro Drive ramp to the Dulles Airport Access Road, said Planning Commission member Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner (Providence District), who moved in favor of the application.

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