A second State Corporation Commission hearing on Dominion Virginia Power’s plan for power lines along Rt. 50 saw speakers ranging from Virginia delegates to local landowners.
They came Tuesday to ask the SCC to consider the county’s proposed alternatives to Dominion’s plan to run high-voltage power lines along Rt. 50, primarily to serve a data center planned along Poland Road. Loudouners argue Dominion’s plan gets in the way of business and infrastructure growth in the area, hurts local businesses, and lowers property values along Rt.50. County government argues it runs counter to the county’s Arcola Area/Route 50 Corridor Plan, which was drafted to help create an attractive gateway to Loudoun County.
“People like me will continue to fight this tooth and nail, as we have invested our blood and sweat in these properties, and we will not give them up without a fight,” promised Danny Diaz, whose family owns property on Rt. 50.
Dominion’s proposal would erect 110-foot power poles along Rt.50 from a line between Stone Springs Boulevard and Racefield Lane to a substation near Poland Road. The county has proposed several alternatives, and the SCC is considering two, both of which connect to power lines near Dulles Airport land and run along Rt. 606, across airport land on Vance Road, and a shorter section of Rt. 50 to the Poland Road substation.
Diaz told SCC Hearing Examiner Michael D. Thomas that his father, an immigrant, had purchased property on Rt. 50 with the expectation that the land would be at the center of Loudoun’s growth and would become much more valuable. He said his family worked hard to pay the property taxes on the land as it appreciated.
“That carpet is being pulled out from beneath us with this, I think, radical proposed change,” Diaz said.
Loudoun Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said, although some towers along Rt. 50 are unavoidable, Dominion has dramatically underestimated the time and cost of acquiring a right of way along Rt. 50, and that the county has done its research in devising affordable alternatives.
His counterpart on the planning commission, Dulles commissioner Jeff Salmon, agreed.
“You’ll save money on attorney fees alone,” Salmon said.
Other speakers warned of the impact on air traffic from the helipad at StoneSprings Hospital nearby.
“Minutes matter, and access to our hospital must remain as unimpeded as possible,” said StoneSprings Chief Nursing Officer Michelle Epps. Others argued that the power lines would create another hazard in a flight pattern already limited by air traffic from Dulles International Airport. Del. John J. Bell (D-87) hearkened back to his career investigating aviation accidents as an U.S. Air Force officer. He said aviation accidents are usually the result of a chain of events.
“Having the issues of the towers and the airspace, we’ve already had one link of the chain connected,” Bell said.
The examiner also heard similar comments from Loudoun Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and Del. J. Randall Minchew (R-10).
A final hearing will be held at 10 a.m. June 29 at the SCC courtroom in Richmond. Written comments can also be submitted until May 6 by mail or at the SCC’s website.