Haymarket Project More than Amazon’s “Extension Cord,” Dominion Says


Dominion Virginia Power would have to upgrade its electricity distribution system to the Haymarket area of Prince William County sooner or later, even without the development of a data-center campus, testified Mark R. Gill, an electric transmission planning engineer with Dominion, in State Corporation Commission testimony filed yesterday.

“Without the request for service to the Haymarket Campus the Project would not be needed at this time; however, the high likelihood for nearby load growth, as showed in Prince William County’s own Build-Out Analysis, indicates that the Project would be needed at some point in the future to maintain reliable service in the area,” said Gill.

According to the build-out analysis, 8.5 million square feet of non-residential development and at least 889 residential units could be developed in Dominion and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC)’s service territory around Haymarket, Gill said.

Gill was responding to earlier testimony by SCC staff engineer Neil Joshipura that in the absence of data centers proposed by an electric customer widely presumed to be Amazon Web Services, the electric system upgrade “would not be needed.” Dominion’s estimate for the preferred upgrade is $50 million. An alternative that would entail burying part of the route is estimated to cost $166.7 million.

Neighbors have vociferously opposed the project, fearing that it will obstruct rural views and negatively impact home values. Describing the new line, new substation, and existing line upgrades as a giant “extension cord” for Amazon, project foes argue that the cost of the project should be charged to Amazon rather than Dominion ratepayers generally. By arguing that the improvements will serve homeowners and businesses other than the “customer” presumed to be Amazon, Gill’s testimony buttressed the position that the project should be rolled into the Dominion rate base.


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22 responses to “Haymarket Project More than Amazon’s “Extension Cord,” Dominion Says”

  1. I would be very surprised if this were NOT the case. Of course, Dominion expects huge amounts of expansion/load growth in the Loudoun County area. So does everyone else! So of course, DVP has a master plan for dealing with that expansion by expanding its distribution system and the transmission system which supplies it.

    The data centers are not the sole cause –neither are they incidental. This is Loudoun’s future on a good day: technology-driven growth. Why shouldn’t the citizens of Loudoun want to promote this kind of growth? Why shouldn’t they support that sort of employment? Well, most of them do. But, the NIMBY contingent is out to extract the maximum concessions it can from everyone else, by delating and obstructing every step of the way. IMHO Loudoun and the SCC have three options: tell these people that if they want unobstructed rural vistas, move further west and buy new homes; or, tell the data centers they have to pay to put everything underground, and in effect turn the County’s back on supporting technology growth there (Amazon CAN locate elsewhere!); or, muddle through and try to force DVP and all other DVP ratepayers to share the pain by tripling the cost of this project for essentially zero benefit except to a handful of irate homeowners. They are proceeding down path 3, and I hope DVP continues to resist their “demands.”

    1. Might want to go back to Geography Class Acbar, Haymarket is in Prince William and not Loudoun. That being said, you have amply evidenced that you have no absolutely no concept of what is and has been going on there. I would suggest doing a little reading on the matter before shooting off your yap.

      As to Mr. Gill, he questioned the engineering chops of one of the respondents, in response I would question his competency in land use planning, zoning and the particulars of Prince William County. There are numerous factual and contradictory flaws in his testimony that may well come back to bite Dominion in the ass. First and foremost, the area of need that he describes is well outside the area previously described in detail by Dominion and much of it lies much closer to a brand new transmission line expressly to constructed to service those commercial parcels in the Gainesville area. Like Acbar, Mr. Gill seems to possess something less than a passing knowledge of the geography of western Prince William County.

      Similarly, his estimation of 8.5 million square feet of future non-residential growth in the service area is grossly overestimated as it includes the potential Amazon site and a proposed shopping center that is a.) based on a thirty year old development model (rezoned circa 1997 as a political favor) , b.) located in the Gainesville service area, c.) unlikely to ever be built as VDOT will not allow the construction of ramps to service it on I-66 because of its poor locations. Also included is a speculative hotel site that will likely never be built but converted to residential uses after VDOT pays the land owner the higher value for proposed commercial property when it condemns a portion for the widening of Route 15. Several of the parcels are a couple of miles south on or near Route 29 and are already served by the circuits present on 29. Lastly, five of the cited projects totaling north of 3.1 million square feet lie within the shadow cast by the existing Loudoun to Prince William line that is being upgraded. Total number of the 8.5 million square feet of non-residential growth cited by Mr. Gill that are absolute bullshit square footage that have nothing to do with the proposed Haymarket service area, somewhere north of 6.2 million square feet or about 75% of his total.

      As to the forecast residential growth of another 889 units, Mr. Gill is apparently too much of dumb ass to understand that roughly 290 have already been built or are near completion, the owner of two parcels has stated very clearly that construction of another 210 will not occur for at least a decade (if ever) and at least 263 are over by 29 and already serviced. That accounts for 763 units of the “proposed” 889 leaving 126 that are largely speculative at best. This is what happens when people rely on Prince William County data that is often (if not always) stale and then try to extrapolate what the future holds with no local knowledge or experience.

      I would suggest that attend those geography classes with Acbar and then take a couple of advanced courses in planning and zoning.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” Amazon CAN locate elsewhere!”.

    and I’m quite sure the folks in Prince William and Northern Va would say “good riddance” .. don’t let the door whack you on the way out.

    What do you expect from a bunch of government workers, govt contractors and beltway bandits?


    All I can say – is – it’s a good thing they put in the interstates and the beltway in a few decades ago because if you tried to do it now -forget it.

    Just look at the I-66 and METRO Silver line, ICC and Purple Line issues.

    these folks want anything than can impact them to be either buried underground or beamed to them via satellite!

    1. BTW your are an ass as well, and that is coming from someone who is more of a curmudgeon than you.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        hey – how about you provide a map of the area and proposed stuff!

        bring some info to the discussion so we “asses” are better informed!

        my impression is that Prince William is STILL GROWING at a pretty good clip – no?

        2000 280,813
        2010 402,002
        2020 487,768
        2030 573,535
        2040 659,301

  3. Mom, you’ve contributed some excellent facts and perspectives to the dialogue. But we refrain from name calling on this blog. Please continue to add your perspective, but do so without the personal attacks. Thanks. JAB

    1. Sorry, but the misinformed truly irritate me when they spout off.

  4. John B Avatar

    Maybe Mom is really from down my way in Jamestown.

    Also, shouldn’t that be “you’re” rather than “your”?

    1. Left that area and its golf-ball sized mosquitoes decades ago.

    1. That map doesn’t include all of the existing lines and relevant sites listed in Dominion’s rebuttal. I’ll see if I can put something together over the weekend but it will be much larger as several of the sites Gill notes are well off that map. As for PWC’s growth, it is finally stalling and likely will come to halt as a result of the new proffer legislation. The only growth PWC has seen in recent years was residential growth as the County foolishly saw proffers as the panacea for all of its ills and poor planning practices. The county operated like a losing gambler that keeps doubling down to make up for losses.

      BTW, nothing wrong with being an ass, I’m likely eligible for ass emeritus status, I simply try not to be an uninformed ass.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        be curious to get your views on the new proffer legislation. Spotsylvania is trying to figure out how to pay for schools and road improvements with the new rules.

        Perhaps Jim will let you write a post on the new proffer rules.

    1. I put together a quick, dirty and none too pretty map that should do the trick but am too much of a luddite to get it to post. What format did you use.

      As to the new legislation and paying for schools and roads, my only advice is save and budget wisely. Proffers will no longer bail anyone out although that may be a good thing as in PWC they created more and greater problems than they solved.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        you just need the url of the image jpeg works fine.

  5. Yes, I read that piece of fiction, very entertaining! Unfortunately I am in a rush to get out the door, but promise to share the Town of Haymarket power point Dominion Power gave back in summer of 2014 where they blamed residential growth doubling from 900 to 1800 for the need of the transmission line and substation. You know, before they admitted there were four massive data centers being proposed across the street.

    Now lets take a journey one year later with Dominion Power, where it was growth WEST of 15 of why we needed power..ruh roh, except the land west of 15 is primarily rural crescent.

    Now lets journey to 2016 where this guy is CLEARLY confused. You see the Lerner Property is in Gaineseville, you know, NOT Haymarket, Gainesville where they just shoved two 550 KV towers back in 2008, right before the real estate market bubble exploded. And now we are going as far as Wellington Road?


    Having said all that, Dominion has 100% admitted, without the data center campus, they could not prove the need. Period. end of story. You don’t get to shove new infrastructure through a community, you don’t get to waste taxpayer dollars because you think there MIGHT be need in the future. And you sure as hell don’t get to do it in the underhanded way that Dominion continues to go about it. They have more excuses than a child who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

  6. John B Avatar

    Chesapeake has had to give builders some proffer relief from their (the builders) past overly ambitious new home selling price projections. Proffers do not seem like a reliable revenue source, and they likely provide a miniscule addition to the budget of a jurisdiction of any even moderate size anyway.

    1. Here is how the proffer game has historically been played in PWC

      1. Developer A asserts that there are not enough rooftops to support Commercial/Office Development
      2. Developer B submits a rezoning for more residential development
      3. The BOCS approves the rezoning to provide more rooftops
      4. Developer B proffers otherwise useless land for schools and parks as well as a quarter mile of one half lane of roadway to mitigate traffic impacts
      5. The additional rooftops create more arterial congestion and pressure on the schools and county services
      6. The School Board screams that it needs more funding as the proffers only address the site and not construction, staffing and maintenance costs which the revenue negative residential rooftops don’t offset.
      7. The BOCS blames Richmond for not building roads quickly enough to compensate for their poor planning
      8. The BOCS initiates a road bond to pay for the roads they want to support their poor planning resulting in the taxpayers paying twice for the road
      9. The BOCS screams there is not enough money to support the schools and county services and pushes commercial and office development as the county’s priority
      10. Numerous commercial rezonings are approved
      11. Starbucks and Walgreens pop up across the county like zits on a teen
      12. The Chairman crows about job growth in the county but doesn’t mention that the minimum wage earners at Starbucks can’t afford any of those previously approved rooftops
      13. Despite the “job growth” and “commercial development”, the revenue numbers don’t improve and the BOCS slashes services
      14. The BOCS blames congestion and tells the taxpayers they must build more roads and that said roadbuilding means there is no money for schools and public services without a tax increase
      15. Those developers of those undeveloped commercial properties rezoned at Step 10 assert that commercial development of those properties is unfeasible and incompatible with the surrounding residential uses that were approved to provide the rooftops to support said commercial development and demand that the property be rezoned residential
      16. The BOCS takes their campaign contributions and rezones their properties for residential development
      17. Return to Step 4 and repeat

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        All very interesting, chock full of insights, Hope you keep it coming. Thanks.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    I’d like to see the proffer discussion moved to it’s own thread..there are some interesting views and our county will vote Tuesday to repeal it’s proffer guidelines and says that from here on in – each development will have to be individually analyzed for impacts and proffers and the word is – that if we have existing school capacity -you cannot charge proffers but once you run out of capacity – you can – but only for the number of kids that development will bring… where the rest of the money for the new school comes from is “under discussion”.

    but that’s a separate issue from the powerline which has it’s own cogent discussion ongoing.

    “Mom” when you do images -you have to publish them to a site then provide the url to the image. if you do your own – you need to put it on a google drive or dropbox, etc – set the share for public then grab the URL and plug in to a BR comment.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    Call me a skeptic that growth in NoVa area is going to quit. While I’m also a skeptic of how Weldon Cooper and others use past growth as the premise for projections – we’re still seeing new subdivisions down in Stafford and Spotsylvania with major rezones being approved near the newly-built VRE station – so it seems not a stretch to think that anywhere within a hour or two commuting distance of NoVa is also going to see more growth.

    Down our way there is also concern when Dominion wants to build new powerlines – but I’m not seen groups formed to basically question the need and actually oppose the powerline – it usually folks trying to get it routed away from them as opposed to outright opposing ANY powerline.

    So it seems pretty risky to directly oppose Dominion having to put in more infrastructure – now or a few years from now -it’s the same thing in terms of inevitability as well as in terms of trying to find a place to put it. Putting it off only makes it harder to find a place and increases the likelihood of actually have to take properties as opposed to scenic impacts to properties.

    I do think following existing transportation and powerline and other built-environment corridors as much as possible is warranted.. and I’d be the first to admit – it’s a bit of a crap-shoot when you choose fringe suburban and rural locations for a home.

    Give the Feds and VDOT credit on the timing of when they selected the I-95, I-66, Beltway and other major corridors when they did – because if they had to do it today – it would be very hard – although the Fairfax County and Prince William Parkways were built.

    Perhaps what Dominion ought to do – is point out areas that right now are vulnerable to peak power demands and storm outages, engage the public and make it clear that the grid in and around NoVa needs work if it is going to remain reliable and dependable into the future as growth inevitably will occur – if not Amazon – other residential and commercial.

    I don’t think it’s is anyone’s best interest to essentially tell business that NoVa is not a good place to come and people will actually oppose new business.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    I’m not a big fan of the way that DVP does “business”.. too much old school corporate behavior for my liking but I have even less wonderful thoughts about NIMBY for NIMBY sake – i.e. opposition and no support of any alternatives and folks who think they know how to do grid electricity, etc.

    it’s sorta like telling VDOT how to do highways or water/sewer folks how to do water/sewer. I don’t doubt they need to be kept on their toes on some of their proposals but at some point – unless you actually have the expertise to directly challenge with an actual viable alternative or worse you have no alternative you’re just in opposition to the whole idea – then sorry we’ve already got more of that than we need. Our problem is we’re locked in place these days – opposition – and no support for any path forward. It’s like a disease.

    The thing is – it takes highways and electricity to provide us with the life styles that we clearly want – this is not a 3rd world country.

    those things come with costs and impacts – there is no way to live in a wonderful rural location without roads and electricity – … well there is – but you are clearly on your own for the road and the power.

    People do that. It’s called living “off grid” – and it’s not for most folks and especially those who live in NoVa who do like their services.

    We have NoVa transplants in Spotsylvania ..living in the “rural” who, until told otherwise, do not realize that their home is on well and septic and not city water.

    I’m not exaggerating… I’ve asked what the steel standpipe is in their yard is, and they tell me that’s where their water meter is!

    so here’s a hint. If you have city water/sewer – you’re not in the “rural”. you’re actually relying on public infrastructure to support your home.

    someone dug a trench to get you your “pipes” .. and I guess some folks think that’s the way electricity should be provided also, eh – all the way from the power plant!

    and most of us don’t care how we got the services – as long as it don’t impact us.

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