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Prince William leaders defiant despite state approval of Haymarket power line: ‘We won’t back down’

HAYMARKET, Va. — Dominion Virginia Power is clear to build a new 234-kilovolt, nearly 10-mile electric transmission line in Haymarket.

Virginia State Corporation Commission officials said two of the alternative routes, the Railroad Route or the Carver Road Route “meet the statutory criteria” for the project.

The power line, if built along the either of the approved tracks, run above ground.

The railroad route will see the line stretched from an existing transmission line near the intersection of Interstate 66 and Route 234, across I-66, then along the westbound portion of the highway. The line will once again cross I-66 near the intersection of the Interstate and Route 28 in Gainesville and then will meander along the Norfolk-Southern Railway until the power line reaches its terminus at a new substation near a Walmart shopping center on Route 55 outside Haymarket.

The Carver Road route follows a similar path along down I-66 to the intersection of Route 29, runs a partial length down the railroad, but then branches off and traverses close to the Somerhill, Hopewell’s Landing, Kenard Ridge, and Haymarket Landing neighborhoods.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors didn’t support either route, but rather a hybrid route that would have seen a portion of the transmission line run above ground, and another part buried. Dominion officials at a series of community meetings in 2015 told the public that lines that run above ground last longer require less maintenance, and are more efficient.

Dominion, per a State Corporation Commission order, has less than 60 days to convince Prince William County officials to allow it to construct the new line along one of the two proposed routes.

“This is corporate vandalism, trying to get this Board to back down on a commitment we made to protect Hopewell Landing, to protect communities on the western side of the county, to protect that easement,” said Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart. “We are never going to back down on that easement…. if that means pulling our support for the data center project, then so be it.”

When built, the line will serve a new data center public officials say will be operated by Amazon, near the proposed substation near the Walmart shopping center. Those same officials worry that the cost to build the new power line will be passed along to customers, also called rate payers.

“The power line is not needed right now for the growth of Prince William County. It is needed for one customer. And I believe the citizens of Prince William County will see an increase in their rates, and many of them will see a decrease in the value of their homes,” said Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland.

Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson said the SCC’s decision was long anticipated and disheartening.

“They did something unusual and put it back on our laps…sadly they didn’t take the recommendations of their own staff,” she said.

The Board of Supervisors will now weigh its legal options in response to the SCC ruling.

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