State Corporation Commission (SCC) Puts Profits Over People, Property, Process
Executive director says: “SCC shows it’s in the business of politics and economic development, not oversight.”
Haymarket, Virginia (April 7, 2017) – The Coalition to Protect Prince William County received yesterday’s announcement from the SCC recommending either the Railroad or Carver Road alternative in the Haymarket powerline / Amazon data center case with a mix of regret and resolve.
Coalition executive director Elena Schlossberg stated, “Today’s SCC ruling strikes me as not just misguided – it is dangerous. A governmental body, charged with making decisions, has abdicated that authority in a way that would be considered childish if the consequences were not so high. And examining their rationale – I can’t decide if the SCC serves as merely a political extension of the General Assembly, or as little more than a provider of economic development subsidies to large corporations such as Dominion Power and Amazon.com.”
“First and foremost, today’s ruling saddens me because the SCC clearly ignored the alternative favored by most stakeholders: the partially-buried I-66 hybrid route. Instead, the SCC favored two routes that directly affect homeowners and businesses in the Haymarket and Gainesville area, despite the availability of a better option that hurts no one and makes Amazon.com pay for its power just like the rest of us,” Schlossberg continued.
Schlossberg added, “Second, and perhaps more damaging, is how the SCC reached its conclusion. In repeating its demand for the Railroad alternative – an option neutralized by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) – then insisting Carver Road is the only fallback option, the SCC is explicitly playing politics, forcing the BOCS to make a decision the SCC lacks the will to make. Frankly, I cannot remember a situation in which a state regulatory agency lacked the confidence to do its job fully. Equally troubling is the fact that while the SCC seems incapable of making a hard decision within the scope of its mission, it is quite open in providing preferential treatment to data centers as engines of economic growth. How can the SCC take economic interests into account when it explicitly ignores property value impacts? Do only corporations matter?”
“That’s right,” Schlossberg said, with an ironic laugh. “The SCC refuses to make the hard calls between routes – it’s real job – but happily and openly subsidizes a favored industry. Who do they serve? Not ordinary citizens, surely.”
“The battle is not over, however,” Schlossberg went on. “Perhaps unintentionally, the SCC has reengaged the Prince William BOCS, both as a party to the decision and as a potential litigant. And the BOCS also must consider Dominion’s request for a new electrical substation to expand the site from one data center to three. Clearly, given the mess the SCC dropped into their laps, the BOCS will be looking most carefully at the substation approval.”
Schlossberg concluded, “The Coalition remains steadfast. Our goal remains I-66 and buried. Our leadership is undeterred by the SCC’s abdication of responsibility. As always, with community support, we will take this fight where it needs to go. Stay tuned.”