If you want to draw a crowd, contact Elena.  Seriously, great job of getting the word out and sounding the alarm, Elena. This sea of people all came to protest what they feel is the destruction of their community.

People came from as far as Richmond to protest the very idea of giant power lines slashing up the Rural Crescent, people’s neighborhoods and businesses, and generally uglifying that end of Prince William County.

The power line issue is coming to a head several years early in hopes of thwarting secret business plans to supply a sub-station for an Amazon data center.  Most of those opposing the power line path don’t oppose Amazon being there.  They oppose having their community ruined in order to supply Amazon its power.

As is evidenced by the picture, this threat is not going to be ignored by the people of Prince William County .  The Battlefield auditorium had standing room only and overflowed onto the stage and into the halls and parking lot.



52 Thoughts to “Crowd opposing power line path packed in like sardines”

  1. Wolve

    Wow. Heck of a job , Elena! And here I thought the Ohio State-Oregon football championship game might have some effect on the numbers!

  2. Pat.Herve

    Great job – I wonder if Dominion and others are listening.

    Now, take a poll of each one of those attendees on Keystone XL – and I bet 80% want it built. They do not want 5 miles of power lines but do want 1180 miles of oil pipeline. Is it NIMBYism or something else?

  3. blue

    Its easy to say “not in my back yard” and to bring in crazies from far away, but do they have an alternative solution?

  4. @blue

    Are you implying that the people attending this meeting are crazies?

    I would be most interested in hearing why you think that.

    Blue, do you think you could bring in this kind of crowd?

    Yes, there are several solutions being proposed. Once we take “crazies” off the table perhaps we can discuss it.

    You want a 100 foot or taller tower on your property? How about slicing through your community?

  5. I love Arizona. It think it is a beautiful state although not as beautiful geologically as Utah.

    I have taken many, many pictures in Arizona. Unless I was truly out in the middle of nowhere, almost every picture has power lines in it. Not the big massive ones like are part of the plan in Haymarket, but ordinary power lines. Let me just go on record as stating that they are uglier than all HELL.

  6. Barbara K.

    I was there last night and the event had a great turnout. I really feel like we might actually win against big energy this time around.

    I heard last night that Elena was thinking of running for supervisor. She would be so awesome. She knows so much about land use issues. We could clean this county up.

    Please tell me it’s true!!!

  7. ElGuapo

    Elena would be a GREAT Supervsor! She has demonstrated true leadership over the past years, and has organized events like this featuring folks from ocross the aisle many times.

    I hope she runs.

  8. Steve Thomas

    I love the battlefield. It is hallowed ground. I remember when Disney wanted to build a park. The economic boon to the area would have been tremendous. Disney “incorporates” their parks. They provide their own services, such as trash, public safety, etc. Summer and weekend jobs for kids, customers for area restaurants, hotels, and other venues visited during the classic “Family vacations”. Best of all, this “incorporated jurisdiction” wouldn’t require the county to build additional schools, and would provide significant proffers for roads….the Net would have been tremendously positive. Sure, there was a downside: increased traffic on our roads, during the weekends, and summer peak visit season. And, of course, the site would be in proximity to the National Battlefield..

    So the folks got together an opposed it. Disney took the hint and took their plans elsewhere.

    So what’d we get in place? Vinyl Villages. Lot’s and lot’s of Vinyl Villages. A huge population boom in the Gainsville area. Lots of families, with lots of kids, and lots of cars, and lots of retail coming in to service these people. Need to build schools, and roads, and fire & police stations, and lots more public safety people, and hospitals, and lots and lots of other things that all require power….much more than Disney would have required, as Disney build their own CoGen plants.

    Oh, and the traffic that would have been so bad on weekends and in the summer? Now it’s a nightmare all the time, as the residents of these vinyl villages commute back and forth to work, and go about their lives on the weekends, and in the summer, winter, spring, and fall.

    So now, Dominion is the “bad guy”, every time a new powerline is needed to service exploding demand. The BOCS are “bad guys” for trying to attract non-retail businesses, to try to diversify the tax-base, without adding huge increases to public infrastructure.

    Alternatives? How about solar? Nope…to ugly, and it bbq’s our non-migratory geese. Wind? even uglier, and it will slice & dice our birds. Coal? too dirty. Nuclear? No thanks…don’t want to glow in the dark. Oil? Hey…why’s my power browning out? The kids get cranky when they can’t x-box, and I’ve got a roast in the oven and two loads of laundry to do…

    So many of the same names and faces here, as during the whole Disney thing. So much short-sighted thinking. But it makes for great entertainment.

    1. I was one of those who supported Disney, pretty much for the reasons you stated. I wasn’t rabid but people in my house were.

      Having said that, I see this case differently. Most of the people have no issue with Amazon or even their need for electricity. They have a real issue with the path the power lines are slated to take. When there are other ways to supply the client, why not do it. Industry and energy can’t run rough-shod over existing communities and towns.

  9. Steve Thomas

    Moon-howler :I was one of those who supported Disney, pretty much for the reasons you stated. I wasn’t rabid but people in my house were.
    Having said that, I see this case differently. Most of the people have no issue with Amazon or even their need for electricity. They have a real issue with the path the power lines are slated to take. When there are other ways to supply the client, why not do it. Industry and energy can’t run rough-shod over existing communities and towns.

    Please explain the “alternative path” or “other ways” to meet this demand? Is there really a zero-impact solution? Don’t think so.

    I’ll tell you what’s going to happen, if the line doesn’t get built: Same thing that happened with Disney. Something is going in there. Some structure, or worse, multiple structures, all of which will require a transmission line. Transmission lines can’t be buried. Only service lines can.

    1. Elena is dealing with this issue in depth. I am not. (Just a listener living in the in-town part of Gainesville district) I feel more comfortable if she explains it. I would probably screw it up.

  10. Mom

    @Steve Thomas
    “Transmission lines can’t be buried. Only service lines can”, sorry Steve you are incorrect. They are buried all the time. Examples can be found in Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria. The states of Vermont, Connecticut and New York have similar buried transmission lines running hundreds of mile. Times and technology have changed.

    There is also a near zero-impact solution that has buy in from almost all parties involved, burying the transmission lines in the VDOT owned I-66 ROW.

  11. blue

    Not so fast, says Dominion Virginia, we are not even to the mi-point of the process. We are still evaluating potential routes for the line… The final decision is up to the state corporation commission. Money will no doubt be a factor.

    This sounds more like a premptive publicity strike than any effort for thoughtful discussion. Local views designed to protect their arial view shed if built along an existing railroad right of way versus the cost and disruption of a line along I-66 makes it easy. My expectation is that the State Corporation Commission will support the most effective long term solution and if the citizens of Haymarket then want it somewhere else they shold be prepared to pay for any additional costs associated with their preferred route, to include lost taxes, jobs and higher commuter congestion.

  12. Mom

    It would be nice if you knew what your were talking about before opening your yap. This issue has been thoroughly researched by many. He’s some reading material to help you on your way.


    1. I feel certain that Mom did read it.

  13. Steve Thomas

    ““Transmission lines can’t be buried. Only service lines can”, sorry Steve you are incorrect.”

    Ok, maybe they can be buried in certain circumstances, but you are proposing huge increases in cost, not to mention accessibility. Oh, and then there’s the whole impact of the trenching and burying of this line. Lastly, buried cables bring with them a much greater service cost, and risk from stray voltage. Also to be considered, the environmental impacts of all that trenching, over all that distance.

    Yes, it’s possible, technically. But is it feasible, in an already densely populated area, or along a route that doesn’t tolerate normal disruptions well? I mean, look at what a heavy lift it was just to get west-bound widened? Arlington County goes to federal court to block this stuff. And how would buried transmission lines impact the inevitable expansion of the orange line? You know, that thing we need to seriously consider, now that all of those vinyl villages have people in them, most of whom work east of Manassas/PWC?

    I think the Metro has buried cables, feeding their 3rd rail.

  14. Steve Thomas

    blue :@Mom
    Did you read it?

    wish this blog had to “like”, “thumbs-up” or a “+1”, cause I’d be using them now.

  15. Mom

    Steve and Blue, I didn’t just read it, I helped write it.

    Further, they can be buried in most circumstances and not with the huge increases in cost that are portrayed by Dominion. There is plenty of literature and billing statements that demonstrate the costs for buried lines are overstated by all utilities, it is there default position.

    Advances in technology have mitigated accessibility, fault location and maintenance issues. Similarly, trenching a three foot section seems preferable to and less impactful than clear-cutting and maintaining a 100-120 foot ROW.

    As to feasibility, follow some of the links to past Dominion projects and then talk to me about the feasibility of such lines in densely populated areas. Last time I checked, the cited locations in Arlington were considerably more dense and the areas in Loudoun more rural, there, we covered both ends of the spectrum for you, happy now.

    BTW, don’t concern yourself with the impact on the pipe dream of extending the orange line to Haymarket, the buried line would be put in the ROW on the north side of I-66 and not in the median.

    Your serve

    1. I hadn’t seen this first when I answered Blue. [feeling smug]

  16. blue


    And are you prepared to speak for the citizens of Haymarket to accept the increased costs? You don’t want the towers. I don’t want the increased costs – above that necessary

  17. Steve Thomas


    Well Ok. Mom for supervisor, and Amazon New Ventures VP.

    But you have to admit, what we got in return for telling Disney to “bugger off” wasn’t the wisest thing, as the resulting residential development sucks. You also have to admit that when marquee companies like Amazon are considering setting up shop in your area, there are hundreds of other jurisdictions that would love to have them. The NIMBY’s have driven away many opportunities to diversify the tax base, and heaven forbid if someone wants to actually farm out that way.

  18. Mom

    The increased costs are spread across all rate payers, just as the cost for the other projects in other counties, unlike the Route 1 project, no county funds are involved. BTW, the Haymarket area residents have spoken and are willing to pay the additional cost.

  19. Mom

    @Steve Thomas
    No thanks, my standard of ethics is too high to serve on the BOCS.

    Read carefully, this is not about Amazon and nobody is telling them to go away. The issue is the provision of 100+mw to their doorstep at the expense of all except Amazon. A solution has been provided to make everybody happy, its up to Dominion to avail themselves of it. Hardly the circumstance generally surrounding NIMBY movements or the Disney debate.

  20. Elena

    First of all, do you think the route that is more than twice as long I66 option,New Road at 12.2 miles long is free?! Aren’t you wondering about the financial loss to the county for property values once the transmission lines ruins their property? So the rate payer pay the more expensive route AND we are asked to pay with our property values? Has the county calculated THAT loss of revenue? Umm No.

    By Dominions OWN numbers, it is approximately 1.75 million per mile to build OH transmission lines, and worse case scenario, 10X that cost for every mile UG. I am no PHD in math, but simple math tells me that I66 and partially buried approximately 1 mile is substantially cheaper AND you don’t screw citizens to get Amazon its substation. So Steve, would YOU be willing to sacrifice YOUR home for one private user when there WAS a feasible alternative option?

    Should the county sacrifice its tax revenue from a 12.2 long mile route when another better option is available?

  21. blue

    Sorry, this reminds me of that environmentalism exhibited by Robert Redford, who lobbied Congress to prevent strip mining in Utah– why, because he had a vista from his ranch that might have been affected.

  22. middleman

    @Steve Thomas
    Steve, I helped “kill” the mouse (Disney) in Haymarket/Gainesville, so I’m pretty familiar with the proposed plan. I’ve heard the claims you make before, and they’re just not true.

    The plan actually included thousands of homes in addition to the theme park and virtually no road improvements paid for by the developer. The only improvements to I-66 would have been a dedicated off-ramp to the Disney park and a few new lane-miles of roadway. The ensuing traffic (and no, not just on weekends) would have resulted in the need for millions in road improvements paid for by the taxpayer. And services for the thousands of homes, etc.- Disney does NOT build their own schools. If you think that area is crowded now, multiply it by 10 and that’s what would have happened if Disney had been successful.

    Not to mention the fact that our actual history that exists there would have been “Disneyfied” in a park right next to hallowed ground. We have the real thing, no need for an artificial facsimile. Believe me, you would NOT have been better off with “the mouse.”

    1. Disney was one issue I saw both sides of. In town people felt differently than the west of 66 people, pretty much along road lines. I supported Disney. It was a jobs issue. The only time I ever got mad was when outsiders got involved. It really should have been a local issue. Some members of my household had much stronger and much more vocal feelings than I did.

      My daughter wouldn’t vote for a local politician because she remembered this lady’s position on Disney. Much of the mouse issue was also NIMBY.

      I am one of those who doesn’t think that NIMBY is a bad thing. If people don’t care about their own back yards, then who else will care?

  23. Maximus Meridius

    Stopping Disney was not just a “NIMBY” campaign. People who cared about the sanctity of and had respect for our history from all over the country supported stopping the mouse from desecrating hallowed ground. My own father who did not even live in Virginia or the DC metro area contributed financially to the effort and visited the sites. I live in Prince William County now, but at that time neither lived here nor had plans to move here. Neither did anyone else in our family. We had no personal connection to the area other than a desire to honor those who fought and died.

    The Disney park would also have been an economic nightmare for Prince William County. In addition to the comments above about masses of houses, traffic and no funding from Disney for roads or anything else, parks like this create almost all low-wage, low-skilled jobs that are held by people who pay little in taxes but demand much by way of public services, paid for by taxpayers. Most of the lucrative managerial and executive jobs held by people who pay more in taxes than they consume in services remain in the vicinity of corporate headquarters. In fact, had this park been built I would not be living here now. I pay a lot more in taxes to Prince William County than the cost of the public services I consume.

  24. Jackson Bills

    @Barbara K.
    Big energy? Really? Wow, learn something new every day.

  25. Jackson Bills

    One thing I think some are missing here is the initial cost of putting lines in the ground vs overhead lines. Nobody can argue that underground lines don’t cost more to implement. We all agree. But what most over look is the long term maintenance of underground lines.

    With over head if something blows up it’s pretty obvious where the problem is and how to fix it, it’s out in the open for workers to see. If something happens underground it’s much much harder and expensive to find, analyze and fix.

    The same people who demand lines be buried are the same ones bitching and moaning when it takes more than 5 minutes to restore their power when something happens. They are the same type of person who has overhead lines and bitches that they lose power every time the wind blows but at the same time take out restraining orders against tree trimmer when they try to cut growth back.

    Nobody is ever happy 🙁

    1. I live with buried everything lines. I almost never lose my electricity. I have lived with overhead power lines and it was out every other day.

  26. Elena

    Seriously?! By the time metro gets out here we will be able to teletransport from one location to the other, but hopefully not end up like the fly!

  27. @Mom

    Would everyone in the Gainesville district pay or just those in the Haymarket area who are served by Dominion Power?

    I have NOVEC.

  28. Mom

    Only Dominion ratepayers is my understanding.

    1. I hope that the end user would have to dump in a nice chunk of change.

    1. They have to pay, especially in light of that $600 million.

  29. Mom

    They don’t have to pay squat except their electric bill.

    1. I meant to say SHOULD.

      That’s the reason that many Navajo don’t have electricity still, to this day. They can’t afford to pay for the lines to come to their property. I find that horrible in this day and age.

  30. Elena

    We have NOVEC too!

    1. How would NOVEC charge you for Dominion power electricity?

  31. Elena


    I heard from someone high up in the county that Data centers often work out deals with utility company because the are such electrify hogs, the power company are willing to wheel and deal.

  32. Mom

    And you’re surprised.

    Imagine your shock when we find out that tax incentives have been promised by Kaczmarek.

  33. Pat.Herve

    The power would be directly from Dominion, as the area is not NOVEC (NOVEC surrounds this area).

    We all pay in the form of transmission costs charged by Dominion to NOVEC and passed on to us.

    They could move the datacenter proposal to another area like Innovation Park or Balls Ford Road where there is existing power infrastructure to support their needs. I do understand the need to diversify the tax base and get more industry here, but is this data center type of commercial industry in the long term plan for the area? REC or CEC.

    1. I was told that Innovation is too far away for the client.

      Balls Ford sure has enough data centers to float a battle ship.

      It is all secret and non-disclosed for a reason. That should be a big clue.

  34. CIA

    Rumor has it that it’s for the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Who knew that Amazon had such government contracts. I thought they were just for online ordering at amazon.com. The interesting thing to me is that there is a non-disclosure agreement between the County and Amazon. If you noticed none of the Supervisors said the word Amazon, they instead said something like ‘that data center of which we will not say the name.’

    1. Amazon won a $600 million dollar contract. I believe it is for cloud services. Check out the Washington Business Journal article.

  35. Lyssa

    We need Amazon and like businesses so local governments can go to cloud solutions and reduce expenditures, reduce taxes and cut staff. Managing networks (cloud solutions) is much cheaper resource wise than purchasing, maintaining servers, programming costs and technical staff. Network management is pretty administrative level any more.

    Maybe the Koch Bros are behind this… 🙂

  36. Lyssa

    Check out Amazon Web Services. AWS is one if not he the biggest.

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