Power Struggle on the Fairfax Board
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) may already be missing Elaine McConnell.
He seldom clashed publicly with the six-term Republican supervisor from Springfield who retired on Dec. 31. The two got along so well that critics in McConnell's district tagged her a RINO (Republican in Name Only). But Connolly could be in for a different experience with her successor, Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield).
Herrity and Connolly sent dueling letters to the State Corporation Commission this week, staking out opposite sides on the 65-mile, $243 million power line proposed for rural Northern Virginia by Dominion Virginia Power. The commission, which will begin deliberations on the plan this spring, held a hearing Monday.
Fairfax County has no direct regulatory power over the matter. But Connolly, who has formed a committee to explore an 11th Congressional District campaign, and Herrity, frequently mentioned as a potential candidate for the chairmanship should Connolly go to Washington, both weighed in.
Connolly wrote that while a transmission line may one day be necessary, the state has not invested nearly enough in energy efficiency and conservation.
"Dominion seems to favor expansion of transmission and generation facilities as a first option, when data suggests that investments in efficiency and demand side management can be made more quickly," said Connolly, who was re-elected in November with support from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and who helped found the national "Cool Counties" initiative, committing the county to sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.
Connolly said he was also concerned about the possibility that the line would be used to ship energy to northeast states that have adopted the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), making it all but impossible to construct new coal plants in that area of the country.
He said that Dominion and other power companies may be attempting to place new transmission and generating facilities just outside the RGGI region, creating more pollution for Northern Virginia. "I do not want to imperil our air quality, open space and historic resources so that Dominion can export electricity to New York and Maine."
Herrity wrote that energy conservation and alternative power are not enough to obviate the need for a new transmission line. He added that the current Dominion proposal largely follows existing power line easements, avoiding many environmentally sensitive areas.
"Many years ago Fairfax County had the vision to ensure that we had sufficient access to water to support our growing region," Herritry wrote. "Today I ask you to have the vision to ensure that the citizens of the Springfield District, Fairfax County and Northern Virginia have the access to reliable electrical power we need to meet our needs beyond 2011."
Herrity called the line "the optimal most efficient solution."
January 16, 2008; 12:21 PM ET
Categories: Bill Turque , Election 2008/Congress , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors , Gerald E. Connolly
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