"Recent Dominion Resources Inc. donations subsidized by customers include a $10,000 gift to a college that was solicited by a powerful state lawmaker who is also the school's paid fundraiser, and a $40,000 donation to a tort reform group that pushed for business-friendly legislation with the help of a longtime Dominion lobbyist, the records showed.
...Dominion, the state's largest electricity utility, has passed well over $1 million dollars in donations onto consumers in recent years."
After months of resistance from citizens groups and government bodies, Dominion Virginia Power has amended plans to upgrade an existing 115-kilovolt transmission line running from Remington to Gordonsville.
The original plan, then called the Remington–Gordonsville–Pratts line, called for acquiring new right of way for one of several possible routes for a new 230-kilovolt line between the existing line northwest of Rhoadesville and a new substation near Pratts.
The upgrades, Dominion said, were necessary to maintain reliable electrical service for more than 25,000 customers in the region and to increase capacity for future growth. The utility said the new lines would give customers at the Pratts substation in Madison an alternative in case power is interrupted.
The proposal to acquire new right of way was opposed by several groups, including the Orange County Farm Bureau and the Orange–Madison–Culpeper Alliance, formed in response to the Dominion proposal. The alliance voiced concerns that the new lines would damage rural areas and hurt farmers in the three counties.
Madison County supervisors filed a civil lawsuit seeking to delay Dominion’s application process on the plan.
Speaking to Orange County supervisors at their meeting last week, Dominion Power project manager Rusty Meadows said the company now plans to file a plan with the State Corporation Commission that includes using existing corridor easements to upgrade the line between Remington and Gordonsville only.
But Meadows said that since the SCC “likes for us to give alternatives whenever we make a filing.” Dominion would also file an option extending the new line to Pratts along one of several newly defined routes.
Responding to that announcement during the public comments section of the meeting, OMC Alliance Co-chairman Bob Wilbanks said his members could find no requirement to file constructible alternatives in the SCC’s published guidelines for applications.
“Instead, depending on how you interpret it,” he said, “it asks the applicant to describe why alternative routes were not selected.
“There are 18 miles of landowners between the areas where these routes are going through,” Wilbanks continued. “They can’t improve their property, they can’t build a house on that property and they can’t list that property for sale because they are under that stigma while it is going through the permitting process.
“Dominion needs to leave that constructible alternative off its application,” he said.
Wilbanks urged the supervisors to “Please keep your eyes open for us, and be careful we are not being set up with a stacked deck before the State Corporation Commission.”
Meadows said Dominion plans to hold another open house to discuss its new plans with the public.
“There is a whole new group of property owners who were not involved when we had our meetings originally,” he said. “This will take those folks into account.”
That open house will be held at Orange County High School from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
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