Early Briefing: Va. Power Line Approved

State regulators approved Dominion Virginia Power's proposal Wednesday to build a 65-mile transmission line through rural Northern Virginia, saying that the project is critical to delivering electricity to the power-hungry region and avoiding widespread blackouts.

The three-judge Virginia State Corporation Commission, whose members are selected by the General Assembly to oversee utilities and other public industries, agreed unanimously to Dominion's plan. The decision gives the power company permission to string the 500-kilovolt line along 15-story towers through farms, forests and suburban areas in six counties, including Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William.

Critics of the project, citing environmental concerns, said they were not done fighting and would appeal the ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court.

In other news:

* The Montgomery County Council signed off Wednesday on a pair of land-use measures designed to open one of Live Nation's Fillmore rock clubs on a vacant stretch of downtown Silver Spring by 2011.

The two votes were the last major hurdles for the controversial plan and a victory for County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who invested substantial political capital in selling the community and the council on the most high-profile building project of his tenure.

Under the deal, the council and the Maryland legislature will spend $8 million in taxpayer funds to build a Fillmore at the site of a former JCPenney store on Colesville Road. Lee Development Group will donate the land, worth about $3.5 million, to the county. And Live Nation will rent the building from the county to produce rock concerts for up to 2,000 people.

* Circuit City Stores lost a recommendation from a firm that advises manufacturers on whether to ship goods to retailers a week after the Richmond-based electronics chain posted a quarterly loss more than triple its year-earlier loss. The withdrawal by Bernard Sands signaled concerns that Circuit City may have trouble paying its vendors.

* Legg Mason's debt rating was lowered one grade, to A3, by Moody's Investors Service because of expenses to offset losses at its money-market funds and withdrawals by stock and bond investors.

The money manager's previous rating was A2, Moody's said in a statement. The downgrade affects about $2.2 billion in Legg Mason debt, Moody's said. The debt outlook for Legg Mason, of Baltimore, was cut to negative last year by Moody's.

By Dan Beyers  |  October 8, 2008; 6:23 AM ET
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