- Virginia's House of Delegates has advanced a bill (H.B. 1766) that would ease the siting of transmission lines, a measure specifically aimed at helping Appalachian Power install local equipment.
- The measure would allow the "associated facilities” needed for development of 138-kV transmission lines to be constructed without local zoning oversight. Appalachian Power, the only utility with 138-kV lines in Virginia, requested the bill.
- House Bill 1766 was approved easily in a vote that went across party lines, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported. A companion bill is currently being debated in the Senate, and has been referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor.
The Times Dispatch has details on the debate over HB 1766, in which lawmakers argue over the difference between a Wawa supermarket and a regulated utility, and local zoning breaks the two might receive. But ultimately, the debate may come down to this: Siting a 138-kV transmission line requires local equipment, and none of that equipment has ever been rejected in Virginia.
More broadly, the debate underscores the difficulty transmission developers—utilities—face when it comes to local permitting regulations for infrastructure.
Proponents of the bill say they're merely ensuring local opponents can't get the upper hand in opposing projects the State Corporation Commission has approved. Opponents say the rule takes away local control.
The proposed bills specify that if the SCC issues a certificate for a 138-kV line, "any associated facilities shall be deemed to satisfy the requirements of ... all local zoning ordinances with respect to the transmission line and its associated facilities."
In the House, the measure was approved on a 67-30-1 vote. The Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor meets again on Monday.