Monday, July 20, 2015
Dominion Power Open House
The room was filled with wandering and nice Dominion Power employees and consultants who knew the script, but not much more. There was however at least one transmission engineer present to address technical questions. The public who attended and included two bus loads from Summerset Crossing, Haymarket and Rural Crescent residents, Delegate Bob Marshall, Supervisors Pete Candland, and Jeannie Lawson as well as some of their staff and a staff member for Supervisor Stewart. Delegate Marshall pointed out that the maps on display were not the same as the maps sent to local residents at the end of June. Dominion employees had no explanation for why they had chosen to not to display all 10 routes.
One of the missing routes was one of the so called New Road options, that had started the "stop Dominion Power" protests. These were routes studied, but not recommended would start in at the Wheeler substation and head north twenty plus miles. The other eight of the considered routes would start southeast of the Interstate 66-Prince William County Parkway intersection in Gainesville and go west 6 miles before turning north and depending on which option would impact the Rural Crescent and view vistas, or the suburban neighborhoods of Gainesville and Haymarket in Western Prince William County.
At the meeting Dominion Power confirmed that the need for the Haymarket 230kV Line and Substation project is due to the increased energy demand is not for future growth of the Haymarket area and the Rural Crescent of Prince William County, but rather for a single customer with the equivalent demand for power of 700,000 homes. This entire project is to deliver power to a data centers for Amazon. Dominion states that this will also strengthen electric reliability for the local area by providing a new source of power and a double circuit line or "loop" provides a networked source, but the locating of a data center outside of the industrial corridor is what is driving the need for the project. The Rural Crescent is not a growth area, or at least not intended to be.
Overwhelmingly, the public support was for only a single option the so called the “hybrid” route a very expensive option that would have a portion of the power lines buried along I-66 and spare the neighborhoods in Gainesville having 120 foot towers built in their communities that would impact their home values. Up close these towers are huge and dominate tighter developed locations. There is one along Logmill Road about a half a mile east from Route 15-check it out.
The routing for this project is not yet determined. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is responsible for determining the need, route and environmental impact of transmission lines in Virginia. Dominion Power has studied 10 routes for the electric transmission lines. Though Dominion Power has only recommended the consideration of five of the ten routes, the SCC can select any of the 10 buildable routes. The proposed transmission line would be run on steel poles, with an average height of 110 feet, and require 100-120 foot wide path for the right of way, according to information available from Dominion Power.
While the questions being asked are which option is preferred by Dominion, the SCC and the communities impacted. The real question is should any of these options proceed. This whole project is about delivering power to a single end user for a data center. This is simply NOT an inappropriate land use in Western Prince William County. This project was approved as an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan. Our county Board of Supervisors needs to bring this project and the expansion of the power in this portion of the county to a full stop. Build something else, or require the land owner rather than the power customers to pay for the additional cost of the “hybrid” option (reportedly about $80 million according to the wandering Dominion employees). Rural enterprises should be developed in this area of the county: farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, restaurants or on-farm wineries and breweries. None of these businesses have an intensive need for power.