Executive director says: “Dominion’s ‘home-court advantage’ disappeared in latest round of SCC hearings.”

Haymarket, Virginia (June 27, 2016) – Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion) scrambled to justify forcing ratepayers and property owners to subsidize one client’s private “extension cord,” and belittled both county elected officials and their staff in last week’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) evidentiary hearings.

Coalition executive director Elena Schlossberg stated, “The Coalition’s argument has changed the dynamic in the battle over Dominion’s proposed substation and high-voltage lines in Haymarket and Gainesville. Much discussion centered on the principle that a single private customer – Amazon – should not reap private benefits at the expense of ratepayers or property owners, in part because Amazon knew the site lacked sufficient infrastructure.”

“Dominion continues to be haunted by past admissions that this is all for one customer,” Schlossberg said. “Dominion’s Greg Mathe told local media in 2015 the need is for ‘a high-tech sector business,’ – not residents or businesses, but a business.  Dominion’s SCC filings mention the Customer dozens of times, citing a single large block load from a retail electric service customer. Dominion’s counter-argument amounts to ‘But we don’t want to pay, and neither does our Customer.’ Naturally, no thief wants to pay.”

“Perhaps sensing ‘home court advantage’ fading, Dominion served up lobbyists from two Chambers of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Technology Council to prevent the principle that corporations should play by the same rules as individual property owners from becoming a precedent. These same organizations attempted unsuccessfully to derail Prince William County zoning reforms in May,” Schlossberg continued. “Dominion also pulled political power players from the corners of the Commonwealth: Delegate Terry Kilgore, whose district borders Tennessee; and state senator Frank Wagner, from Virginia Beach. Dominion’s political pals resorted to arguing for a project they do not understand – and for harming Virginia citizens they have never met.”

“Dominion’s overreliance on outsiders shows deep disdain for people with actual local authority and expertise. Besides using financially-favored lobbyists and legislators to subvert the wishes of elected leaders in western Prince William County at the state, county and local levels, Dominion dismisses the County Board of Supervisors as incapable of governing or planning without its consultation. County planning director Chris Price earned attacks in retribution for zoning reforms that site data centers in an opportunity zone with appropriate infrastructure, and subject electrical substations to the same level of public oversight applied to a fast food drive-thru,” Schlossberg quipped. “It’s sad, in Dominion’s eyes, lobbyists trump locals, and paid influence trumps personal integrity.”

“Our community should be proud,” Schlossberg concluded. “The Coalition was outnumbered in the hearing room, but we stood our ground. Dominion’s surprise proves both their arrogance, and that we continue to have an impact. Round one of this fight left Dominion grasping for new tactics as the usual ‘outspend and overwhelm’ failed. We continue to work with our attorneys toward the August 5th deadline for legal briefs with a consistent, precedent-setting argument: bury the line; Amazon pays. It’s the right thing to do.”

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