GAINESVILLE, Va. — The long-running fight over large, new power lines, which Dominion Virginia Power says are needed to connect a transmission line near Manassas, Virginia to the area just past Haymarket, Virginia will move forward with an opportunity this week for neighbors to learn more about new changes to the proposal.
Dominion says the line is needed to provide power for a data center said to be in the works in western Prince William County, and that it also will help provide for the long-term growth of the area.
Opponents question whether the line is really needed to fuel the so-called “rural crescent,” and there have been mixed messages in recent weeks over whether the data center will actually be built.
The new line would require new land for the right of way stretching from the Prince William Parkway interchange with Interstate 66 to a proposed substation just southwest of the U.S. 15 interchange with I-66 by Haymarket.
The proposed routes include two that would largely follow the interstate, and three that split off to the south of that route around Gainesville. (See the map above.)
Dominion is hosting an open house Wednesday, July 15 at Battlefield High School in Haymarket. The open house will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and include newly updated maps of potential routes for the power lines.
State Sen. Chuck Colgan, a Democrat who represents part of the area, says the open house is another opportunity to ask Dominion to keep changing the project to meet community expectations.
“I haven’t found any option that everybody likes, so I have to say no [there are no good options], not yet,” he says.
In the long-term, Colgan said he believes power lines will have to go underground in the area.
“But it’s going to take a long time to do it; it’s going to move slow, but at least it’s a goal that we set, and people go to work on it and people would have something to look forward to,” he says.
“I think the power companies have to really belly up to the bar and do the job.”
Dominion first publicly floated the project last year. The company expects to file an application with the State Corporation Commission soon that will include its recommended and non-recommended options. The SCC makes the final determination. Construction could begin next year, with the line and substation completed around 2018.
“I think it’s very important to get the public out there; this is an election year … they really should get to know the candidates that are out there and have them commit and explain what their position is on the power lines, at least we should know where they stand,” Colgan says.
Colgan is not running for re-election this year, but says he will “just keep sticking” to working for his constituents as long as he is in office. He began serving in the state Senate in 1976.
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