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April 15, 2022

Dominion proposing power substation in Warrenton; ‘I think folks are going to really be very concerned,’ supervisor says

Dominion
Dominion Energy is proposing to build a substation behind the Country Chevrolet Dealership Warrenton.
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Staff Journalist
Dominion Energy is proposing to build a substation behind the Country Chevrolet Dealership Warrenton and construct transmission lines – either above or below ground – that would connect the proposed electrical facility to two other substations in Fauquier and Prince William counties.

During a county Board of Supervisors work session Thursday, Dominion representatives gave a presentation during which they stated the county is in need of a new substation to help alleviate “overloaded infrastructure” and serve the power needs of new data centers, such as the proposed Amazon data center behind the Country Chevrolet.

Stephen Precker, communications consultant for Dominion, told supervisors a lot of Dominion’s infrastructure was built decades ago and needs to be replaced in the near term to keep up with Warrenton’s future growth.

“And in order to maintain a safe, secure and reliable service for all our customers, we want to make sure that we're maintaining infrastructure updated as the needs arise,” he said.

Precker did state one of the main reasons the electric utility company is proposing building the new substation, which would be located between near the corner of Blackwell Road and Lee Highway, is because of the proposed Amazon data center.

Amazon purchased the property for the proposed site in September 2021 for $39.7 million, but the tech giant has not yet submitted a special permit application with the town, which is required for the project to move forward.

Dominion also laid out preliminary plans for the 230 kV transmission lines it would need to build to carry electricity from the Warrenton and Wheeler (located in Nokesville) substations to the Blackwell substation.

The company presented two options for transmission lines for supervisors to consider. The first is a proposal to build the transmission lines above ground, which would encircle Warrenton, follow Lee Highway toward Prince William and then cut over toward Nokesville.

The second option is constructing underground power lines along Route 29 and connecting the Blackwell substation to the Warrenton substation.

Precker said Dominion is also looking at how the project could potentially affect wetlands, nature preserves, parks and cultural and historic sites.

“I hope that if there is one thing that you can take away from my presentation today is that we very highly value community input and public feedback in helping us refine our options and help us consider things that we may not know about communities or what we may need to take into account,” Precker said.

Dominion plans to consult with local leaders and community advocates, Precker added, as well as provide opportunities for the public to provide feedback on the project in the coming months.

“We're looking at holding large-scale or broad public open houses,” he said. “This will be an opportunity for the public at large to meet our Dominion team to talk with the engineers to talk with the project management staff.”

People can view the status of the proposed project and submit comments on the plan at dominionenergy.com/blackwellroad.

Public engagement with the community, Precker said, could begin in the weeks ahead and continue into the fall, when the company must submit regulatory documents to the State Corporation Commission. The review process could take anywhere from 12 to 24 months. Precker said the company hopes to begin construction by 2024 and finish by 2025.

Following the presentation, Scott District Supervisor Holder Trumbo told Precker he believes the company has an “uphill battle” with this project. He recalled the opposition Fauquier residents expressed toward the transmission lines crossing into the county when the Wheeler substation was being built back in 2014.

“I think folks are going to really be very concerned about this, to say the least,” he said.

Nonetheless, Center District Supervisor Chris Granger said the proposed substation would provide more opportunities for economic development around Warrenton and create an influx of non-resident tax dollars for the county.

“We're pretty much tapped out, which has always been kind of a limiting factor to commercial and industrial growth in and around Warrenton … ” he said.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify Dominion is submitting documents with the State Corporation Commission.
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