New hearings ordered for controversial gainesville power line prince william insidenova.com harry mileaf electricity 1 7 pdf

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“I hope this means that the days of a state-regulated utility walking over the citizenry are over,” said Elena Schlossberg, the coalition’s executive director. “This is unprecedented…It just shows that there are serious deficiencies with their proposal.

Dominion spokesman Chuck Penn wrote in an email that the company is “looking forward to providing the commission with the requested information about this important project and continuing to provide reliable energy to customers in the Haymarket region.”

Yet the project’s opponents, particularly the coalition, claim that Amazon’s data center is driving the need for the project, which they don’t believe is a good reason to pursue the power line. Additionally, the group claims Amazon’s attorneys admitted to federal regulators that the facility won’t need the data center to function unless the company adds two additional buildings to the site, which it may never do — Dominion and Amazon’s attorneys believe the coalition is mistaken on those assertions, and argue that the facility will need the power line to ever become fully operational.

Staff for the SCC has yet to address the validity of those arguments, but they did recommend that the commission hold more evidentiary hearings on the matter back in August. Regulators didn’t need to follow that advice, but they wrote in the new order that they intend to examine “the issue of need for the proposed project” as well as what path it could someday follow if it moves forward.

“This goes to show the arguments the coalition has put forward are gaining traction, and have viability and credibility,” said Del.-elect Danica Roem, D-13th District, who will represent the area in Richmond when she takes office in January. “This exactly why we should be doing everything we can to support the coalition.”

Dominion has had to repeatedly revise the power line’s route over the years, as property owners and the Prince William Board of County Supervisors have managed to block several routes for the project and stymie Dominion’s plans. The utility is currently hoping to build the line on overhead towers along I-66, but the commission has yet to weigh in on that request.

A “hearing examiner” with the SCC will set the next steps for reviewing the project following this order, laying out a schedule for additional hearings and collecting more evidence from all interested parties. Schlossberg admits that she isn’t sure exactly how things will proceed (because of how rare it is for the SCC to re-open a case like this), but she is optimistic that regulators seem more open to hearing the coalition’s arguments based on this latest order.

Roem will certainly be watching that process closely. As a fierce power line opponent, she was mulling joining Del. Tim Hugo, R-40th District, to introduce legislation to require that Dominion bury the line underground. Yet, even as a candidate, she urged lawmakers to wait on the coalition’s challenge to the project to play out before taking action, and she’s heartened to see regulators examining the issue in more detail.