Del. Tim Hugo Announces Plans to Legislate for Burying Haymarket Power Lines

| October 23, 2017 | 0 Comments | News

L-R Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, District 13 Del. Bob Marshall, Chairman Corey Stewart, House Commerce and Labor Chairman Terry Kilgore, 40th District Del. Tim Hugo and Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland speak at a press conference, Oct. 23, at the Cushing Road Commuter Lot. 

Western Prince William elected officials joined 40th District Delegate Tim Hugo (R) and House Commerce and Labor Chairman Terry Kilgore (R-1st District), Oct. 23, to announce Hugo’s intentions to introduce legislation in the 2018 General Assembly to ensure the proposed 230 kV power lines in Haymarket are buried.

“For more three years, the citizens of western Prince William County have watched as the current regulatory process has failed to resolve the problem of burying the proposed power lines,” said Delegate Hugo, who is up for reelection, Nov.4. “The I-66 hybrid route is the only acceptable route. I am confident that we will find a solution to burying these power lines and protecting the quality of life in western Prince William County.”

Kilgore stood in support of Hugo’s proposed legislation.

“I recognize that the quality of our electrical grid is not only a security issue, but a quality of life issue as well. Working alongside my house colleagues and local elected officials, I am confident that we will develop the framework to upgrade our grid infrastructure to the standards required of the 21st Century.”

The fight over the power lines has gone on for over three years. At this point, the SCC has yet to make its final determination. While the Gainesville-Haymarket community has demanded the buried hybrid route, Dominion Power favors an above-ground route, which is much more cost-efficient for the power company to the tune of $100-150 million.

Delegate Bob Marshall, (R) District 13, has fought alongside Hugo since the beginning to see that the powerlines do not detract from Haymarket neighborhoods, scenic or historic areas. Monday, he pledged to support the legislation to help make it a reality.

“The citizens I represent and with whom I have worked for the past three years have my full assurance that if additional power is actually needed for this Haymarket project, I will continue to fight for the Hybrid underground route,” said Delegate Bob Marshall, who is also up for reelection. “That has been our shared goal for the past three years.  There is no plan B. I believe that with the commitments made here today by elected officials and others, we are much, much closer to that goal.”

Although the details of the legislation have not been put forth, there are several approaches that could be taken. The State Corporation Commission is the final arbitrator in deciding upon a power line route and whether it should be buried, but the state has some ability to direct the SCC and what process it must follow.

In a phone conversation, following the media event, Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland (R) said that currently the SCC has very little ability to arbitrate that a power line be buried. That is something Candland hopes the legislation can change.

The main deterrent to burying a power line is the high cost. At it stands, the residents do not feel the cost should be passed on to them as the visible high voltage power lines are needed to support a new Amazon data center.

The community by and large opposed the location of the datacenter. In contrast, datacenter which are build within the designated industrial areas tend to be welcomed and even celebrated by citizens and elected officials of Prince William County.

According to Candland, the proposed route along I-66 passes is very problematic. It traverses through the most populated areas, affecting more homes and businesses than any other proposed route, coming within yards and even feet of homes and businesses in some cases feet.

It also enters an Historic Overlay District around Buckland Mills; which is still not enough to convince the SCC that they should rule to have it buried.

Candland believes that if Hugo proposes legislation it would not only be advantageous for Haymarket and Gainesville but for other parts of the state as well going forward.

The announcement comes at a pivotal time for the elected officials. Hugo and Republican Candidate for Governor, Ed Gillespie, both agreed to support the legislation moving forward should they be in the position to do so next year.

“This is important not only for Prince William County, but for other communities in Virginia as we work to maintain and enhance grid infrastructure,” said Gillespie. “Our energy grid is critically important to our economic and national security. I look forward to working with Commerce and Labor Chairman Terry Kilgore and Delegate Hugo on this legislation as governor-elect.”

Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors Corey Stewart and Prince William County Board of Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, also Republicans, attended the media event, standing in support of the proposed legislation.

“This fight will require the help of our next governor. That is why I’m happy to see that Ed Gillespie has shown that, he too, is committed to resolving problems that are impacting citizens not only across Virginia, but specifically here in Prince William County,” said Prince William Board of County Chairman Corey Stewart.

Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson notes that for the past three years, residents have pushed for the powerlines to be buried, not tor run through residential neighborhoods.

“Now it’s time for everyone to come to the table and contribute towards a buried line solution,” she said.

“Locating the proposed power lines has been a problem that has gone on for too long. Working with every stakeholder to get these power lines buried has my full support,” said Candland.

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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