Is Dominion Power going to get its way on everything?

How else does one explain HB 1766 (sponsored by Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem), a bill that would abolish the zoning powers of every locality for the sole purpose of allowing Dominion Power and other utilities unlimited rights to locate electric substations and other facilities wherever Dominion desires.

In fact, it amends 56-265.2, which reads:

For construction of any transmission line of 138 kilovolts, a public utility shall either (i) obtain a certificate pursuant to subdivision 1 or (ii) obtain approval pursuant to the requirements of (a) § 15.2-2232 and (b) any applicable local zoning ordinances by the locality or localities in which the transmission line will be located.

Currently, local zoning determines electric substation and equipment placement. Subsection (b) above states that Dominion must follow local applicable zoning laws when placing transmission lines.  HB 1766 negates this clause, and allows the State Corporation Commission to issue permits to Dominion for placement of their substations and facilities without regard to local zoning laws.

Legislators who support this bill (most likely written by a Dominion employee), must not have read it or do not understand the consequences of this legislation.  In effect, Dominion can, if HB 1766 is passed, arbitrarily and legally “run over or under” any local resistance by communities in regards to placement of transmission lines and associated facilities. It seems that HB 1766 codifies eminent domain at the local government level.

The bottom line is that with this legislation Dominion can put a mega-power line through your county, and your elected local leaders will be able to do nothing to stop it!

Why this bill now?  Is this the beginning of a long-term plan to increase the size of allowable transmission lines above 138kV in the future?  Is this a first step in securing transmission lines for Amazon data centers in Prince William County despite local opposition (Does Amazon require 230kW lines)?  Or, is this simply another way for Dominion to increase its profit margin?

Virginia is now very close to granting de facto zoning powers to a private corporation and regulated utility. I call on Mr. Habeeb to separate himself from this bill.

Dominion Power is the largest single donor to members of the Virginia General Assembly.  All Virginians should all take a moment to visit the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) and calculate how much their representative has received from Dominion Power.

I have received no money from Dominion Power, and if they send me a check by mistake I will send it back.  I don’t think public utilities should be able to lobby the legislature to increase their profits, nor do I think it is proper for them to shower the legislature with donations.  The government has granted them a monopoly, and they have no business seeking to increase their profits through politics.

Denver Riggleman is an Air Force Veteran, former Air Force Intelligence Officer, former owner of Analyst Warehouse, a successful DOD contracting firm, and is currently the owner of Silverback Distillery in Nelson County Virginia. Riggleman is currently running for the Republican nomination for governor in Virginia.

  • Sailblazer

    Denver Riggleman is truly a man of the people. Virginians will support his candidacy as soon as they get to know him.

  • Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel

    Standing ovation! As a member of The Coalition to Protect PWC, we are thrilled that you see these bills for what they, an underhanded move by Dominion Power to exercise eminent domain over private property with no opportunity for local government oversight. We warned Delegate Habeed two weeks ago, telling him, you don’t want to carry this water for Dominion, the citizen reaction is going to be overwhelming.

  • Greg Habeeb

    I called Mr Riggelman yesterday to explain to him the numerous errors in this post. His office was not interested in hearing the facts since they were inconsistent with the misinformation he’s spreading for political purposes.

    Here’s the truth. The bill has nothing to do with Dominion. Dominion did not instigate or support the bill. Dominion has almost zero 138kv transmission lines. The bill has zero to do with PWC. The bill simply clarifies the unanimous 2012 legislation. But Mr Riggelman’s inability to read a bill and lack of interest in a constructive fact based dialogue tells me all I need to know about the man as a statewide candidate.

    • The Derecho

      Del. Habeeb, I’m sorry, but not surprised to see that your arrogance and obnoxious behavior extends beyond the House floor. Although your constituents might be incapable of complex thought or seeing further down the road than the ground beneath your feet, don’t presume that the remainder of the Commonwealth’s residents are so handicapped.

      If you want some facts try these on for size.

      1. Dominion has solicited support for the bill from some delegates and denied association with it to others.
      2. There is nothing to prevent the Senate Committee or Senate as a whole from amending your bill or SB1110.
      3. There is nothing to prevent the Governor from amending any version that reaches his desk.
      4. The poorly crafted legislation establishes a precedent of the worst kind and could come back to repeatedly haunt the Commonwealth in future years.
      5. Local jurisdictions have used their zoning authority to deny substations in the past and in many jurisdictions preclude them in entire zoning designations. Perhaps you should go back and read the Skiffs Creek decision before opening your yap.
      6. The Commonwealth’s citizens that you assert are misleading the public and the General Assembly are largely more intelligent, accomplished and discerning than you, regardless the Esq. at the end of your title. Just so you are aware, many of those carpet bombing the General Assembly with emails and phone calls have advanced degrees and include retired politicians, lawyers, engineers, scientists, CEO, lobbyists, senior government officials and of course your ordinary citizens.
      7. It is you that is willingly or unwittingly spreading misinformation be it for political purposes or repayment for Dominion and APCO’s generous contributions.
      8. As the bill is not limited to the counties down in Appalachia and is by its very nature legislation that impacts the entirety of the Commonwealth, it does have everything to do with PWC and Dominion.

      What you fail to understand is that we see the big picture that is either beyond your myopic view or one that you would rather not have us see. The only difference between us similarly concerned residents of the Commonwealth is that we have fought many land use battles over the past decades and are cynical to a fault. As a result, we are also very well organized and not inclined to take prisoners.

      Let me put it in words you might understand, that dog won’t hunt.

      • Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel

        Yes, what Derecho said!

    • Dylan Lloyd

      What matters is Dominion Power unduly benefits and private property owners unduly suffer from legislative action. How does this help my family, Mr Habeeb?

  • Theron Keller

    Read the bill for yourself here, including the highlighted text that is the actual change being proposed. Note, the bill has already passed out of the House of Delegates and is now awaiting action at the Senate.

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