In testimony filed at the State Corporation Commission last night, Dominion Virginia Power announced it is abandoning plans for power lines along Rt. 50 and acquiescing to alternative routes proposed by Loudoun leaders.
Project Manager Wesley Keck testified that Dominion’s proposed routes are no longer feasible after the county government acquired land at the intersection of Rt. 606 and Rt. 50 from South Riding Proprietary, the South Riding homeowners’ association.
The company cannot condemn publicly-owned land. To build on that property, it would need to get easements from the county. When Dominion wrote to the county asking for those easements, Director of Planning and Zoning Ricky Barker wrote back to say that might not be so easy—the county has been planning improvements to the Rt. 50 corridor for years, and the land may be needed for an interchange at Rt. 606.
“Given that the interchanges are not designed, I anticipate that the Board of Supervisors will require as a condition of conveyance that Dominion agree to relocate, at its cost, any overhead power lines which are inconsistent with the final design of the interchange,” Barker wrote.
“[Barker’s letter] is a strong indication that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to assure the Commission that the Company could construct one of these routes if the Commission were to approve it,” Keck testified.
Dominion’s plans would have erected 110-foot power poles along Rt. 50 from a power line between Stone Springs Boulevard and Racefield Lane to a substation near Poland Road. Those plans drew outcry from both residents and government leaders.
Now, the utility has withdrawn those plans and will consider the county’s routes, which connect to power lines near Dulles Airport and run along Rt. 606, across airport land on Vance Road, and a shorter section of Rt. 50 to the Poland Road substation.
The company had argued that crossing federal airport land would require an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, which could delay construction past its planned opening dates, but the company has begun that review nonetheless.
“I would like to thank all of you—who number in the thousands—for making your voices heard in this process,” stated Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “The No Towers on 50 coalition, led by Val Walters, Mike Rhodes, and Denise Harrover of Van Metre, played an extremely important role in organizing grassroots opposition to Dominion’s plans.” Letourneau also thanked county staff and supervisors.
“This is great news for the future of our community and the Rt. 50 corridor, otherwise known as the Gateway to Loudoun County,” said Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge). “I commend Supervisor Letourneau, the County Attorney’s Office and the many residents and businesses who have worked hard to get us here. We’ll keep working over the next few weeks to ensure the right outcome.”