Another little squabble in the ongoing war over power lines erupted this week
at the western end of Prince William County, Virginia, an area that has been transformed from farms to suburbs over the past 25 years. (I helped, in my small way, since I did archaeology on two big developments out there.)
Local opposition is growing in just the two weeks since residents found out about the plan for a 230,000-volt line, which would run for six miles from a north-south line in Gainesville. The line, on 120-foot poles, would run along Interstate 66, cut across a wooded area near Catharpin Road in the Somerset Crossing neighborhood, and then run parallel to the north fork of Broad Run and the Norfolk Southern train tracks behind the Greenhill Crossing neighborhood to an as yet-unbuilt substation in Haymarket.
Residents say the line would cut through protected wetlands, reduce property values of entire neighborhoods and possibly cause health problems. Jim Napoli, president of the Somerset Crossing homeowners association, said a quickly called community meeting last week drew 200 Gainesville residents.
“The community is very upset about the proposal,” Napoli said. “We didn’t sign on for these monstrous towers of 230,000 volts of electricity surging through us.”
Dominion Power spokesman Chuck Penn responded like this:
Penn said the population of Haymarket “has more than doubled since 2000, and during that same time period, the demand for electricity has roughly tripled.” The 2012 population of Haymarket was estimated to be 1,900; it was about 900 in 2000. “We’re looking at staying ahead of that,” Penn said. “In our business, we cannot wait until we need the power. You have to stay on top of the development.”
And there you have it. Nobody wants to live near high voltage power lines, but nobody wants to go without electricity. If you want to get rich in a big hurry, invent an affordable way to bury high voltage power lines.
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