Leesburg resident Janet Kirk enjoys raising her two children near the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail. She was devastated to find out that Dominion Virginia Power is proposing to construct a new transmission line in western Loudoun County.
Like many residents, she is concerned about the property value of her house, as well as the health of her children.
Dominion Virginia Power filed an application with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) in April 2005 to construct the new 230,000-volt transmission line from its existing Pleasant View substation to a new site northwest of Hamilton, near the intersection of Berlin Turnpike and Route 7, a heavily wooded area.
If the SCC approves Dominion Virginia Power’s application, the company will close the trail for 12 months, said Anderson.
In November 2005, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution of opposition to the installation of the proposed transmission line along the W&OD Trail and support of underground construction as the preferred method of installation.
ON THURSDAY MORNING, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) held the last of three public hearings on the Dominion Virginia Power transmission line proposal. Loudoun County residents filed into the Loudoun County Government Center in Leesburg. Advocates for and against the proposal greeted residents at the board room door with bumper stickers and oversized pins. The room was packed and strollers crowded the isles. Approximately 60 people signed up to speak on the issue.
Kirk held her daughter in her arms while she opposed the Dominion Virginia Power transmission line proposal. She said she was not only concerned about the property value of her house, but most importantly, the health affects on her family.
"Even though the health risks are unknown, it’s still a risk," Kirk said.
Fellow Leesburg resident John Beal owns a house 500 feet from the W&OD Trail. He said he opposed the transmission line proposal at the public hearing for two reasons. It will negatively impact property values and negatively impact the residents, he said.
"It impacts the residents. The aesthetics, the noise, the affects of electromagnetic fields," he said. "I have small children."
The real estate agent said the proposal of overhead lines running through the W&OD Trail will negatively affect his business.
"Why would people consider moving into this area," Beal said.
"I would be willing to pay more for power if it went underground. It makes the most sense. The technology is there."
SUPERVISOR JIM CLEM (R-Leesburg) stressed the importance of keeping up with modern technology, at the public hearing.
"There are long-term savings and maintenance costs," he said. "It’s not just the installation cost."
He encouraged Dominion Virginia Power to select an area that least impacts Leesburg and Loudoun County residents. He also encouraged them to find a way to mitigate the humming noise of the power lines.
"Bury the lines and please stop pinning neighbors against neighbors," he said.
Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) agreed, "bury the lines."
"What is the low-cost alternative?" Burton said. "It depends on how you measure cost."
The SCC will hold an evidentiary hearing in Richmond March 22.
After the meeting, an SCC hearing examiner will collect information from hearings and studies, to make a recommendation to the SCC commissioners.
"The three SCC commissioners will ultimately make the decision as to where the lines should go," Anderson said. "We are hoping it will be complete by summer 2008, to avoid power outages in western Loudoun County."