Derecho: Senator Stanley, Say what you mean, or Mean what you say

If you have had trouble following along with Sen. Stanley’s logic regarding SB1110, you are not alone.  He seems to statements and actions don’t seem to have any particular direction and the reasoning behind SB1110 seems to wander.

On the Senate Floor and in Committee, Sen. Stanley asserts that the bill is not about Dominion or the rest of the Commonwealth.  He has stated repeatedly that the bills is strictly about APCO and is “a bill for Southside and Southwest”.  Well, given the content of the Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on the bill, you will pardon me if I am just a bit skeptical of Sen. Stanley’s honesty for if he is honest in what he is saying, that suggests his reasoning and intelligence are subpar.  At one point during the hearing an amendment was offered that would restrict the bill to the APCO service area, an amendment which Sen. Stanley refused.  If indeed the bill is only “for Southside and Southwest” then why refuse the amendment.  Cynical minds want to know.

In my view (and others), the amendment was refused because the crux of the matter isn’t 138kv lines in Southside and Southwest but rather the Skiffs Creek decision regarding “associated facilities”.  This view is underscored by Sen. Stanley’s babbling on the floor last Friday.  If I understood him correctly, the point of his sponsoring the bill was to prevent the utilities from having to go back to the SCC for approval of those “associated facilities” separately from the transmission lines.   If that is indeed the case, then he is terribly, terribly confused and probably needs to have someone walk him through his arguments.

As introduced, his bill (SB418) in 2012 eliminated “the requirement that an electric transmission line of 138 kV obtain State Corporation Commission approval”, allowing a public utility to obtain approval from the locality or localities in which the transmission line will be located. This allowed the utilities to shorten the approval from the the 12 months generally required by the SCC to roughly 5-6 months on average for approval by local jurisdiction.  Therein lies the flaw in both Sen. Stanley’s and Del. Habeeb’s reasoning with regard to SB1110  and HB1766.  While admitting that the bills are in response to the Skiffs Creek decision, On the floor, Sen. Stanley asserted that one of the primary goals of SB1110 was to eliminate the utility from having to go back to the SCC for approval of the supporting substations, switching stations, etc and extending the process.  He followed up by noting that the bill does not take away any powers from the local jurisdictions.  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.  SB110 and HB1766 provide “that the issuance by the State Corporation Commission of a certificate of public convenience and necessity for construction of an electrical transmission line of 138 kilovolts and any associated facilities shall be deemed to satisfy local comprehensive plan requirements and all local zoning ordinances with respect to the transmission line and associated facilities”.

You see, the utilities always had to get local approval for “associated facilities” such as substations and switching stations, they are included in the zoning ordinances of virtually every local jurisdictions.  The SCC never had authority over approval of their siting thus the utilities would never go back to the SCC for a separate approval of their location.  Similarly, as the local jurisdictions currently have the exclusive authority to approve the location of such structures, SB1110 and HB1766 DO STRIP THAT LOCAL AUTHORITY FROM THEM.

You see Sen. Stanley, the difference between us and you is that we understand the current circumstances and precedents and you apparently do not.  If you do truly understand them, then you are assuming that we are both too stupid to follow along and incapable of understanding your and Del. Habeeb’s treachery.

Take your choice, incompetence or perfidy, neither should be the hallmark of an elected official.

Hmm, suddenly I’m confused, which one is Sen. Stanley?