The placement of a 500,000 square foot Data Center in Haymarket where high voltage infrastructure is not available should not be permitted unless portions of any proposed 230 KV power transmission lines which would adversely affect our community are placed underground. That is my bottom line. I am prepared to support litigation if necessary to ensure this outcome.
We have many Data Centers in Prince William constructed in industrial zoned areas. Amazon is currently constructing a data center on Wellington Road in the industrial zoned Innovations area where infrastructure is already present, and that is appropriate. I have nothing against Data Centers coming to Prince William County. I do have problems with Data Centers locating in areas that require huge power lines across already established neighborhoods.
Virginia’s tax laws now grant tax credits for constructing Data Canters, but those tax credits should only be available for data centers that are built in Industrial areas, not commercial areas. If I am reelected I will amend the law to enable tax credits be granted only when Data Centers locate in areas with adequate infrastructure.
The proposed Amazon Haymarket Data Center at the intersection of Routes 15 and 55 in Haymarket has caused significant, unified community opposition from an unusual alliance of environmentalists, Civil War Hallowed Ground advocates, homeowners, churches, charities and major business developers. None of us object to the presence of an Amazon data center. We object to the adverse impact it will have on homes, historic designated areas, and previously planned economic development projects because of the 110 foot high voltage towers that will be needed to serve the data center.
The lack of transparency from the presumed applicant, Amazon, as well as Prince William County’s Economic Development office and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership is not in the best interest of the public.
Electric power for the proposed Haymarket Data Center would consume as much electricity as a small city. Dominion Power must propose several alternate routes for the transmission towers. Public hearings held by the State Corporation Commission also must be held, and the final electric power line route will be chosen by the SCC, not Dominion. Litigation through the courts depending on the route chosen may also follow.
Since 2014, I have been attending meetings, rallies, town halls, open houses, home owner association meetings and keeping in touch with Dominion, County Supervisors and the Haymarket Town Council.
I also arranged for representatives from the State Corporation Commission to meet with local citizens about the steps and requirements of the power line approval process. I urge all citizens in western Prince William to remain united behind one power line transmission route which travels along or down I-66 and is placed underground east of Old Carolina Road all the way to Haymarket. Such a route will have the least adverse impact on our community, should Amazon refuse to move to another location that does not require the water and electric infrastructure that must be brought to the present site.
As a state regulated utility, Dominion Power is guaranteed a minimum profit by law, so although placing portions of a Haymarket 230 KV lines underground may be initially more expensive to Dominion, their profits will not be affected as they can recapture these costs. Nor do I think the cost of undergrounding the power lines should be borne by residents in western Prince William County who bought their homes before Amazon decided to locate here!
Erecting such massive power lines above ground will cost western Prince William residents probbably more in lost property and other values, which translates into less real estate taxes the County will collect. Furthermore, Amazon (and its likely federal clients) should pay to under-ground the transmission lines as citizens building their own homes have to pay to have electric come to their property. It would be wrong to make the Haymarket community subsidize Amazon’s intentional placement of a data center outside of an Industrial zoned area which would already have such infrastructure in place.
A 500 KV Interstate power line had been proposed for construction in Western Prince William by Dominion Power to connect a power generation plant in West Virginia with a local distribution station in Loudoun. Much of western Prince William would have been affected.
I testified before the U.S. Department of Energy as well as the Virginia State Corporation Commission against these unnecessary 550 KV power lines in Prince William and Loudoun and brought the concerns of local citizens to these agencies. Ultimately, a different route was chosen, in part because of strong and intelligent citizen opposition and the availability of a much less problematic alternate route.
Under SB 1349 signed by the Governor in 2015, Dominion Power (which helped draft the law) will be exempted from bi-annual State Corporation Commission reviews of profits for “rates, terms and conditions for any service” until 2020. This law will also prevent the SCC from reviewing Dominion’s earnings until 2022
I voted against this bill.
While Dominion Power is a regulated public utility, and does currently provide reliable power at fair rates set by the SCC, determining rate fairness by the SCC is only possible if Dominion opens its books which this law prevents until 2022. In effect, with respect to profits, Dominion will be an unregulated electric power monopoly for seven years even though rate adjustments will be made after 2022!
That is NOT in the public interest.
Why did Dominion want a base rate freeze passed in 2015, rather than wait to find out what the EPA will do with Dominion’s coal fired electric plants? Under a base rate freeze, electric bills could still increase for fuel costs.
In 2012, Dominion supported a law which prohibited the State Corporation Commission from approving an agreement between a local governing body and an electric utility for the underground installation of an electric transmission line of at least 150 kilovolts if a feasible overhead alternative exists, unless all localities in which the line passes request that the line be installed underground. Placing transmission lines underground should not be prohibited where overhead lines can cause significant community disruption. Therefore, I voted against this bill.
In 2007, I voted against Dominion Power being able to raise consumer electric rates. Dominion earned $1 Billion more during that capped rate period, paid $750 Million in cash for four out of state power plants in 2005, and borrowed $1 Billion in 2006.
In 2006, I sponsored HB 3130, which became law to empower counties, cities, and towns to designate power line corridors, including underground lines. Before my law, localities had no direct decision-making authority. All such decisions were left solely to the power companies.
“A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
– Thomas Jefferson