From Potomac Local
by Stephanie Tipple
It will be up to Virginia’s State Corporation Commission to decide where a new electric transmission line will run in Haymarket.
The project, which has been met with an outcry from the community, currently has five different routes that are on the table, according to the Dominion Power website.
Recently, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution stating that they would only support the ‘I-66 Alternatives’ plan, which would bury the transmission lines underground near I-66 and Route 29.
Other routes would potentially place large overhead transmission lines through residential areas, according to Dominion Power maps.
Why the need for a new transmission line?
The purpose of bringing a transmission line project to an area would typically be to increase capacity and service for all residents in the area, but this may not be the sole reason for the project in Haymarket.
In a Washington Post article, it is reported that the transmission lines are being built for the benefit of one customer – Amazon – as it is reported that they are building a new data center in Haymarket that will need additional power capacity.
Senator Dick Black and Delegate Bob Marshall have even stated that they believe Amazon is the reason for the project and have written letters to Amazon’s owner Jeffrey Bezos.
Amazon did not return Potomac Local’s request for comment.
Who pays for the project?
According to Dominion Power spokesman Chuck Penn, there is no official cost for any of the proposed routes – but it will be at an upward of $140 million.
“We do not have cost estimates for each route…initially when we first announced the project – the so-called ‘railroad route’ – was in the neighborhood of $60 million…and the preliminary cost for the ‘hybrid route’ was $140 to $142 million. But since then, we’ve determined that that estimate is low,” said Penn.
And according to Penn, this cost is going to be passed to all of the rate-payers, regardless of if the transmission line is being built for the benefit of one business, like Amazon.
“We don’t view it as being for any customer – it’s a block lode increase…ultimately, the cost of the project will be passed on to the rate-payer. And when I say rate-payer, that’s across the entire Dominion footprint – across all of Dominion’s customers…every resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia that is a Dominion customer will be paying for this project,” said Penn.
According to Penn, Dominion Power does not get the final say on the route chosen for the project. The route is decided by the State Corporation Commission.
“There’s been a very robust and healthy exchange of information, with regards to this project, and we have benefitted greatly from these ongoing interactions with the community. And it translated into three of the routes that were under consideration that we’re going to recommend to the State Corporation Commission…the reality of it is that it’s very rare, that any transmission project is universally endorsed by all parties,” Penn said.
Currently, there is no set timeline for the commission to select a route.