Haymarket 230kv Transmission Lines

The proposal of a 230kV Transmission line which Dominion has claimed is needed primarily to provide power for an Amazon data center (located close to the intersection of I-66 and Rt. 15), began a fight which has been going on for over three years, and which will not end until the Virginia Supreme Court hears the last appeal from affected homeowners.  Ten years ago, I helped citizens successfully fight a similar interstate power line effort in our county and I will continue to fight to protect the citizens affected by this proposed power line.    

Dominion has asked for, and the State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved a 60 day pause until September 17, 2017, on constructing the Haymarket line. Dominion recently submitted their response to the SCC stating that, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, there is still a need for this transmission line and that the plan to build the line along Carver Road or one of the other above ground routes should go ahead on schedule.  A final decision about the need for the line and the particular route will be issued by the SCC at some point after the September 17th deadline.

In March 2017, a group of us met with the Corps of Engineers about the project’s environmental impact. At that meeting, lawyers representing Amazon explained there were no immediate plans to construct Data Buildings Two and Three, that building One is operating without the 230kV lines, building Two does not need 230kV lines and a third data center might NEVER be built. These assertions contradicted Dominion’s plea to the SCC that the line was needed to serve “the customer” by June 2018.   

SCC’s own staff concluded, “Staff does not believe the Company could justify the need for the project without the Customer’s request for service to the Haymarket Project.” 

Senator Black and I subsequently filed a complaint with the SCC questioning Dominion’s asserted “need” to build the 230kV lines at all.  The SCC has consolidated our complaint with other complaints filed by Prince William County citizen groups and homeowner organizations of which I am part. 

Hopefully the SCC will not dismiss these valid complaints, but if they do, we must absolutely remain united behind the route with least harmful impact:  the partially underground route along I-66 (Hybrid I-66 Route.)   We cannot allow Dominion to "divide and conquer" and to pit one neighbor against another!   Other 230 kV lines have been buried in Arlington and Stafford counties and all around Virginia.  Underground lines do not require maintenance of tower easements, are less susceptible to power outages, and a $1/year estimated extra charge on electric bills is well worth the benefits, although I believe Amazon should pay its own bill.

In 2014, I asked VDOT to meet with Dominion to examine the feasibility of burying the power lines along I-66.  VDOT told Dominion the underground plan would work.  

 Should the SCC decide the 230 kV line is needed, they could designate Carver Road, any other proposed route or combination of proposed routes, or an entirely new route. This is why we must stand firm for the Hybrid I-66 route and only that route.  If Dominion divides us, we all lose.  If we don't want the line in our own front or back yard, we should not want it in our neighbor's.  

Permit approval, federal compliance, and possible lawsuits could further delay the process. Once SCC selects a route, Dominion would apply to the County for a zoning change for the necessary switching station to convert 230 kV into usable power for the data center.  In 2015, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that local governments control zoning for switching stations.  This rezoning process could take up to a year by law.

WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?  Prince William Supervisors recently passed a resolution urging the SCC to re-examine the need for a transmission line, to reaffirm the Board’s support for the I-66 Hybrid route, and to restate their opposition to the Railroad, Carver, Madison and all routes other than the I-66 Hybrid route.  

Please educate your friends around the county, not just in western Prince William, about this fight which could take place in their own neighborhoods someday.  Ask them to urge their own Supervisors to advocate for the I-66 Hybrid route only.  Remind them power transmission lines have been buried in Arlington and Stafford counties and elsewhere around Virginia.  If Supervisors hear from their own constituents, not just Haymarket area residents, they will remain committed to the underground only route.

I doubt Dominion and Amazon’s CEOs would allow 110 foot high power towers with 120 foot wide easements on their own property.  They should treat others equally.  The SCC should not ignore the loss of home values, damage to the environment and historical resources and possible health hazards especially in areas never designated as power line corridors!  Amazon could have located in the industrial area that has adequate power.  

Instead, Dominion (CEO made $20,610,000 in 2014) and the SCC want Dominion customers to pay to for Jeff Bezos' (1st or 2nd richest man on planet) VAData/Amazon extension cord!  Individuals who buy land must pay to bring electricity to their property.  Why the double standard?  If Amazon wants three data center buildings, they should be good neighbors and not force Dominion customers to pay for Amazon’s extension cord.    

I believe Justice demands we continue to fight to protect our homes and neighborhoods. To reiterate, I don't believe a Haymarket line is needed, but if Dominion and the SCC proceed, I will continue to advocate for the I-66 Hybrid route.