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Virginia Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (8-VA-c)

Information current as of 2018
In Virginia, a developer may need a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to construct, enlarge, or acquire “any facilities for use in public utility service.” Va. Code Ann. § 56-265.2(A)(1); tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-80. A public utility is defined as “any company” that owns or operates facilities within the State for the “generation, transmission, or distribution of electric energy for sale.” Va. Code Ann. § 56-265.1. Specifically, a developer must obtaiobtain n a a CPCN from the SCC, or approval from the appropriate local government pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-2232 to construct a 138 kV or more transmission line and any associated facilities, including any station, substation, transition station, and switchyard facilities. Va. Code Ann. § 56-265.2(A)(2).; However, an incumbent utility may build certain transmission facilities without a CPCN, if they are “ordinary extensions .” tit. 56 Va. Code Ann. § 56-265.2(A)(1).. SCC staff has interpreted the following categories of projects as “non-ordinary extensions” that require a CPCN:
  • Any transmission line project at or over 138 kV that:
    • proposes construction of a new line more than 0.5 mile long;
    • requires the use of new ROW not supplied voluntarily by the requesting customer(s) for which the project is being undertaken;
    • includes the replacement of more than three existing structures; or
    • requires the replacement of one or more existing structures with a structure that is more than 20% taller than an existing structure being replaced; or

By implication, any transmission line project not in one of the above seven categories that requires only should be an “ordinary extension” that does not require a CPCN. See the Staff Guidance for further explanation: Virginia – Virginia State Corporation Commission Transmission Line Staff Guidance on Ordinary vs. Non-Ordinary Extension Projects.

The SCC regulates the construction of public utility facilities pursuant to Virginia – Va. Code Ann. tit. 56 ch. 10.1 et seq., Utility Facilities Act; Virginia – tit. 5 Va. Admin Code et seq., Rules of Practice and Procedure; Virginia – Va. Code Ann. tit. 56 ch. 1 et seq., Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act; Virginia – tit. 20 Va. Admin Code et seq., Public Utilities and Telecommunications.


Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Process

8-VA-c.1 – Does an Exception Apply?

An incumbent utility may build certain transmission facilities without a CPCN, if they are “ordinary extensions.” tit. 56 Va. Code Ann. § 56-265.2(A)(1). An “incumbent electric utility” is an “electric utility in the Commonwealth that, prior to July 1, 1999, supplied electric energy to retail customers located in an exclusive service territory established by the Commission.” tit. 56 Va. Code Ann. § 56-576. SCC staff has interpreted an “ordinary extension” as “any transmission project that requires only re-conductoring, maintenance, or station work” or that does not otherwise meet the characteristics discussed above . Virginia – Virginia State Corporation Commission Transmission Line Staff Guidance on Ordinary vs. Non-Ordinary Extension Projects.

8-VA-c.2 – Does the Project Require a Transmission Line of 138 kV or More?

A developer must obtain a CPCN from the Virginia State Corporation Commission (VSCC) to construct and operate a transmission line and/or facility of 138 kV or more. Virginia – Virginia State Corporation Commission Transmission Line Projects Webpage.

8-VA-c.3 to 8-VA-c.4 – Does the Developer Choose to Obtain Local Approval for the Project?

A developer must obtain a CPCN from the SCC or approval from the appropriate local planning commission with jurisdiction over the project to construct a transmission line of 138 kV or more, and any associated facilities, including any substation, station, transition station, and switchyard facilities. Va. Code Ann. § 56-265.2(A)(2). If the developer chooses to obtain local approval instead of obtaining a CPCN through the SCC, the developer must initiate the land use planning process for the appropriate local planning commission. A developer must obtain approval from the appropriate local planning commission with jurisdiction to “construct, establish, or authorize any public utility facility or public service corporation facility…whether publicly or privately owned…” Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-2232(A). For more information, see: Land Use Planning:
1-VA-a

8-VA-c.5 – Request Pre-Application Planning and Review Process (Optional)

The developer may request a pre-application planning and review process from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality if the project requires a CPCN from the SCC and an environmental permit from the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(H).

8-VA-c.6 to 8-VA-c.7 – Conduct Pre-Application Planning and Review (If Applicable)

In conducting pre-application planning and review, the SCC, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; Virginia Marine Resources Commission; Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; Virginia Department of Historic Resources; and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation identify the potential impacts and approvals that may be required and develop a plan that provides for an efficient and coordinated review of the proposed energy facility. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(H). The plan includes the following:

  • A list of the permits or other approvals likely to be required based on the information available;
  • A specific plan and preliminary schedule for the different reviews;
  • A plan for coordinating those reviews and the related public comment process; and
  • Designation of points of agency contact to facilitate coordination.

Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(H). The state of Virginia must make the plan readily available to the public and maintain the plan on a dedicated website to provide current information on the status of the plan, and each approval, including opportunities for public comment. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(H).

8-VA-c.8 – Provide Notice of Application

The developer must also notify the appropriate locality prior to filing an Application for a CPCN with the SCC. Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-2232; SCC Guidelines for Transmission Line Applications Filed Under Title 56.

8-VA-c.9 – Application for Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity

A developer must submit a complete Application for a CPCN (Application) to SCC. A complete Application must include the following:

  • Statement of the necessity of the proposed project;
  • Description of the proposed project;
  • The impact of the transmission facilities on scenic, environmental, and historical features;
  • Calculated health aspects of electromagnetic fields associated with the proposed project;
  • Proposed route description to be used for public notice purposes; and
  • If the project involves a transmission line greater than 138 kV, a statement and associated correspondence that the developer has notified all impacted local governing authorities of their intent to file a CPCN.

SCC Guidelines for Transmission Line Applications Filed Under Title 56; tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-80;

8-VA-c.10 to 8-VA-c.11 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The SCC must review the Application materials for technical and administrative completeness. The Memorandum of Completeness must specify what information is missing and needs to be filed with the SCC.” tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-160.

8-VA-c.12 to 8-VA-c.13 – Is the Application Complete?

If the Application is incomplete and supplemental information is required, the developer must resubmit the application in complete form.

 ==8-VA-c.14 – Provide Notice of the Application==

Upon receipt of a complete Application, the SCC enters an Order directing the applicant (developer) to publish the notice and prescribes what must be contained in said notice. The public notice of the Application is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the counties and municipalities through which the electric transmission line is proposed to be built, provide written notice to the governing body of each impacted county and municipality, and mail notice to all owners of property within the route of the proposed line. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(B) . Sufficient notice must include:

  • A written description of the proposed route the line is to follow; and
  • A map or sketch of the route including a digital geographic information system (GIS) map provided by the public utility showing the location of the proposed route.

8-VA-c.15 – Comment on Application

Any person or entity may file written comments on the Application. tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-80.

8-VA-c.16 – Notice of Participation (Optional)

Any person may file a notice of participation with the SCC to enter the proceeding considering an Application as a party. tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-80. A Notice of Participation must contain:

  • A precise statement of the interest of the respondent;
  • A statement of the specific action sought to the extent then known; and
  • The factual and legal basis for the action. tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-80.

Any person or entity that files a notice of participation becomes a party to that proceeding. tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-80.

8-VA-c.17 – Does an Interested Party Request a Public Hearing?

Any interested party may request a public hearing prior to the SCC approving or denying an Application. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(C). Interested parties include “the governing bodies of any counties or municipalities through which the line is proposed to be built, and persons residing or owning property in each such county or municipality.” Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(D). Interested parties also include any person who filed a notice of participation with the SCC to enter the proceeding considering the Application pursuant to tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-80. If an interested party requests a public hearing, then the SCC must hold the public hearing “as soon as reasonably practicable” after receiving the request. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(C). If 20 or more interested parties submit requests for a public hearing to any impacted municipality, then the SCC must hold at least one public hearing in the impacted municipality for the purpose of receiving public comment on the proposed project. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(C). Prior to holding a hearing in an impacted municipality, the SCC must make any previous hearing transcripts available for public inspection. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(C.

8-VA-c.18 – Hold Public Hearing on the Application (If Applicable)

SCC staff may appear and participate in the public hearing proceeding to ensure that the issues associated with the Application are adequately represented to the SCC. Staff may conduct investigations and discovery, evaluate the issues raised, testify and offer exhibits, file briefs and make arguments. Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(D.

8-VA-c.19 to 8-VA-c.21 – Review Application for Approval

The SCC reviews the Application for approval. During its review of an Application, the SCC staff may send out interrogatories to the developer requesting supplemental information that it deems necessary to support its investigation. Responses to these interrogatories are typically required within seven (7) calendar days of receipt by the developer. If the SCC approves the Application, the developer may proceed with the project in compliance will all CPCN conditions and applicable statutes and regulations. Virginia – tit. 5 Va. Admin Code et seq., Rules of Practice and Procedure. ‘’’138 kV or Greater’’’ In determining whether to approve a proposed overhead transmission line with a capacity of 138 kV or greater, the SCC must consider whether the line is needed and whether the corridor or route will reasonably minimize adverse impacts on the environment. In assessing the necessity and location of a proposed transmission line with a capacity of 138 kV or greater, the SCC considers:

  • Whether the line is needed;
  • Whether the corridor or route the line is to follow will reasonably minimize adverse impacts on the scenic assets, historic districts, and environment of the area concerned;
  • The developer’s efforts to reasonably minimize adverse impacts on scenic assets, historic districts, and environment of the area concerned;
  • The developer’s load flow modeling;
  • Contingency analyses; and
  • Reliability needs presented to justify the new line and its proposed method of installation.

Va. Code Ann. § 56-46.1(A)-(B).

8-VA-c.22 – Petition for Rehearing or Reconsideration

If the SCC does not approve the Application, then any party to the approval proceeding, including the developer may file a Petition for Rehearing or Reconsideration on all parties and the SCC staff within 20 days from when the SCC enters its judgment on the Application. Further, an appeal can be taken without the filing of a petition for rehearing. tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-220.

8-VA-c.23 – Provide Copies of Petition to SCC Staff

The developer must provide a copy of the Petition for Rehearing or Reconsideration to all parties and SCC staff on or before the day the developer files the petition. tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-220.

8-VA-c.24 to 8-VA-c.27 – Does the SCC Grant the Rehearing or Reconsideration?

If the SCC grants the rehearing or reconsideration, the SCC Clerk will send an order outlining their decision to all parties and SCC staff counsel. tit. 5 Va. Admin Code 5-20-220.

8-VA-c.28 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any person aggrieved by the Commission’s order may appeal a final SCC decision to the Supreme Court of Virginia. tit. 20 Va. Admin Code 5-325-110.


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Contact Information









Edit Virginia State Corporation Commission
Public Utility Regulation, Communications, Electric, Gas, Water & Sewer 804-371-9611 UtilityReg@sccabbazabbavirginiaabbazabbagov Visit Website


Edit Virginia State Corporation Commission
Manager-Technical Staff Division of Public Utility Regulation 804-371-9336 davidabbazabbaessah@sccabbazabbavirginiaabbazabbagov