A bill specifically designed to aid the desire of many Loudoun County officials and residents to get a proposed 230-kilovolt transmission line buried underground passed a Senate committee on Monday.
The bill, HB 2878, was introduced by Del. Joe T. May (R-33) in response to a year-long battle over Dominion Virginia Power's proposal to build a transmission line to Hamilton. Originally, the company wanted to use the W&OD Trail as the line's location, wiping out the last wooded vestige of the popular park. Dominion has agreed to investigate other options — but it has steadfastly refused to consider under grounding the line, citing cost as the main factor.
Under the bill, Loudoun County and the Town of Leesburg would be permitted to enter an agreement with a utility to create a special-rate district comprised of properties affected by the new power line. The special-rate district would contribute, via a tax or surcharge on power bills, to the additional cost of undergrounding the line as opposed to building an overhead line.
Dominion has estimated that an 11-mile underground line on the W&OD Trail would cost $100 million, a number that has been disputed by local activists and Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York. The company has not provided cost estimates for other underground routes.
Save the Trail president Barbara Notar was encouraged. "Del. May's bill is an important first step to getting transmission lines buried in Loudoun County," she said.