Several small business owners told a Virginia State Corporation Commission hearing examiner Thursday that Northern Virginia needs a new 500,000-V transmission line proposed by Dominion Virginia Power to improve reliability and meet their business growth needs.

"Small businesses cannot grow unless they are assured there will be power to support their growth," Jennifer Bisceglie, president of InTEROS Solutions Inc. of McLean, Virginia, told the hearing examiner. Her company, which she expects to double from four to eight employees by 2008, helps industries improve their manufacturing and distribution processes and supply chains.

"Our listeners depend on us for continuous news information and entertainment. Our advertisers also depend on us, and we depend upon a constant supply of energy to meet the needs of our listeners and our advertisers," said another small businesswoman, Clara Marshall of Radio Fiesta, an Hispanic radio station in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Dominion Virginia Power has applied with the SCC to build a 65-mile transmission line to alleviate projected overloads of the transmission system in the summer of 2011. The proposed route is atop or adjacent to an existing power line between electric substations in Frederick County and Loudoun County.

The SCC began a series of public hearings Thursday about Dominion's application at Fauquier County High School. Other hearings are scheduled for mid-August in Prince William, Warren and Frederick counties. Hearings will resume in Richmond in January 2008.

"The success of the high-tech industry in Fairfax County and the rest of Northern Virginia depends on having continued access to dependable electricity supplies," said William Lecos, president and chief executive officer of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and its 800 members. "The same can be said for the success of all businesses in our region and across the Commonwealth. Electricity is their lifeblood. They cannot survive without it."

Other chamber leaders who spoke in support included: Hugh Keogh, president and chief executive officer of the Virginia state chamber; Laurie Wieder, president of the Prince William regional chamber; and Diane Poldy, president of the Vienna - Tysons regional chamber.

Resolutions and letters of support have been offered by many other businesses and organizations, including:

  • The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates both Washington Dulles International Airport in Loudoun County and Washington Reagan National Airport in Alexandria.
  • Ashlawn Group LLC of Alexandria, Va., which produces hydrogen fuel cell power supplies to power munitions.
  • vAutomate of Ashburn, Va., which provides and integrates "smart" home, energy saving and home control systems to residential and commercial clients.
  • The Coulter Companies of McLean, Va., whose staff of 40 serves national and international non-profit organizations.
  • The City of Manassas, Va., Utility Commission

In his letter of support, James E. Bennett, president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, wrote, "Our need for increased electrical power grows annually. Passenger traffic at Reagan National exceeded 18.5 million last year...and passenger loads at Dulles will nearly double by 2020 when our current 23 million customers served each year will exceed 40 million passengers annually. Accommodating new passengers traveling on Metrorail and other mass-transit projects under consideration requires parallel planning for expected increases in electrical consumption."

Electric demand in Northern Virginia has grown by about 40 percent over the last decade and is projected to grow by another 8 percent by 2011. Six counties -- Loudoun, Spotsylvania, Culpeper, Stafford, King George and Prince William -- are among the 100 fastest-growing counties, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported. This region was the only part of Dominion's service area in which the company had to reduce voltage during the summer 2005 peak to maintain the system and was included in a voltage reduction warning during the all-time peak of 19,375 MW set Aug. 3, 2006.