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Power line plan shown

August 11, 2011 12:15 am


King George residents had lots of questions for Dominion Power officials last night, but the one asked most often dealt with location, location, location.

People wanted to know where their homes are in relation to the proposed routes for a new high-voltage power line.

"I guess everybody has a gripe," said Elizabeth Braden, adding she clearly didn't want overhead lines anywhere near her home of Litchfield, built in 1802. "This would be impacting private property and historic property."

Other residents, like Jim Lynch, supported an option that affected the fewest people and natural areas. "Wherever it goes, it's going to impact some of our neighbors, but I guess that's the way it goes," he said.

Dominion wants to build a 230-kilovolt transmission line from State Route 3 to Dahlgren to meet its growing need for electricity. Its officials, along with a citizens group, identified five possible routes for the line, which runs about 10 miles.

Last night, Dominion held an open house at the King George Citizens Center to share information.

Almost 200 residents attended. They started arriving half an hour before the open house was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., and were still coming at 7 p.m., when it was supposed to end.

"This is by far the biggest turnout we've had," said Daisy Pridgen, a Dominion spokesperson.

Projects manager Dave Pelkey, looking burly in a burgundy polo shirt, joked that he had offered to be the bouncer for the night, but his services weren't needed. He's been at some meetings in Northern Virginia where crowds got downright antagonistic.

"The thing I like here is everybody is real friendly," he said.

Residents made a beeline for the poster-size maps, laid end to end on tables, that showed each route. Dominion representatives and private consultants hired by the company hovered nearby, ready to show people where their homes stood.

They also answered questions about easements and wetlands; the size, color and type of tower structures; and if residents would get paid for trees cleared from their property. (The answer to the last question is yes, Pelkey said.)

On ballots the size of business cards, residents could vote for their structure color choice: dull gray or dark brown.

They also could vote on which type of structure they preferred: single steel pole or lattice tower, compact steel H-frame or steel double H-frames.

They couldn't vote on their preferred route, but were asked to evaluate each alternative.

"I've never seen a situation where the power company asked people for their input," said John Rinko. "It's good to get peoples' advice. Whether they're going to take it or not, who knows?"

Projects manager Pelkey said all five routes carry about the same weight at this point. The shortest one is about 10 miles and the longest, just more than 12 miles. There's about a $1 million to $2 million difference between the cheapest and most expensive ones, he said.

The estimated cost of the project is $30 million.

"In our minds, we'd take any one of the five," he said. "It really doesn't matter."

Dominion will factor the community input, along with environmental issues, costs and affected homes into spreadsheets and determine the best route, Pelkey said.

It hopes to file an application with the State Corporation Commission by October.

If approved, construction would begin in fall 2012 and the project would be completed by May 2014, according to Dominion's timeline.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

Maps of the proposed routes, as well as descriptions of the different types of overhead power lines, are on Dominion's website, Search for Dahlgren. ROUTE A runs for the most part along the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail. ROUTE B runs north between State Route 206 and U.S. 301, then hits State Route 218 and goes north to the new Walmart in Dahlgren. ROUTE C is farther southeast on State Route 3 and roughly parallels U.S. 301. ROUTE D is the farthest southeast and crosses State Route 205, then heads north and crosses Route 218. ROUTE H starts near Ashland Mill Road, crosses Poplar Neck Road, then Route 218 and heads north along U.S. 301.

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