Henrico Planning Commission approves new Dominion facility

Ted Strong | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Dominion Virginia Power secured approval from Henrico County on Wednesday for a new, more secure operations center near Interstate 295 in the northern part of the county.

While the 110,000-square-foot, $80 million facility will be “hardened” with increased security measures, it will look like any other office building.

“You’re not going to see barbed wire or anything like that there,” Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen said.

The new facility will offer better security, improved infrastructure and more space for expansion, Pridgen said.

About 100 jobs will transfer from the current facility in the Innsbrook Corporate Center.

The current facility was a $27 million project in 1986. It includes the operations center and other departments.

The other departments will not be affected by the move, Pridgen said, and the current facility will continue as a backup to the new one.

The new facility will be one office building among many in the area between Parham Road and I-295, just east of Interstate 95. It will be between Park Central and Windsor Business Park.

“It’s a very nicely designed building and it’ll blend right in,” Planning Department Director R. Joseph Emerson Jr. said.

The move comes in tandem with a wider effort by the electric utility, the state’s largest, to secure its critical infrastructure.

The industry in general has been on guard since an attack last year on a California substation that sends electricity to the Silicon Valley. That attack severely damaged the substation, caused nearly a month’s worth of repairs and gave greater weight to concerns about a concerted attack on the nation’s power grid.

But Pridgen emphasized that the change is mostly a result of the changing needs of the utility, and not a response to a threat or recent events.

“We have not had any kind of security breach of anything of that sort,” she said. “We’ve outgrown the facility there at Innsbrook and, again, most of it has to do with security and … new technologies.”

The Planning Commission approved the move unanimously, Emerson said. No one from the public showed up to oppose it, and the county’s public works officials didn’t voice any concerns about traffic, he said.

“They’ve done a nice job in planning the site and there weren’t any major hurdles to overcome,” Emerson said.

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