PJM, a regional transmission organization, has accepted a proposal for new power transmission lines that would go through Western Loudoun and directly through the Waterford National Historic Landmark to support the needs of the data center industry. The proposed 500KV lines go directly through conserved land and land under easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. These transmission lines pose a major threat to the integrity of the Landmark and the region we sit in. Our Landmark status is intrinsically linked with the unspoiled viewshed surrounding our historic village. Not only that, but every resident and business who calls Waterford home would be impacted by the construction of these power transmission lines. The Waterford Foundation stands opposed to such violation of our conservation values, and will work to oppose any impact to the integrity of Waterford’s Landmark status.
Why is this important? Western Loudoun has remained relatively untouched by the massive growth of the data center industry in the past years. Instead, it remains a haven for farmland, open spaces, conservation, and preservation. Amongst the picturesque hills sit wonderful and profitable businesses and organizations that rely on the surrounding. It is also an area where history and past of Loudoun County can be found woven into the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. The best example of this can be found in the National Historic Landmark of Waterford. Building transmission lines through this region would impact the daily lives of residents in an unprecedented manner; damage the livelihoods of farms, businesses, and organizations that are in its path; and damage the integrity of the Waterford National Historic Landmark. This is similar to a proposal to put transmission lines through Gettysburg National Battlefield or Mount Vernon.
We need your support to fight this threat. One thing that the Foundation has learned is the power of the Loudoun County community banding together for a common cause. Please see below for ways you can help us oppose this threat.
Stay in touch:
The Waterford Foundation is maintaining an email list for those who would like to stay informed about this issue. If you would like to be included, please email Historic Preservation Director Abigail Zurfluh here, or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
How you can help:
Share your concerns with decision makers:
National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (NIETC):
- Changes in the designation of the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor could pose a challenge for opposing proposed transmission lines. If it is determined by the Department of Energy that Loudoun County is a NIETC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could issue permits for transmission line construction even if state authorities deny applications.
- The Department of Energy is currently accepting public input regarding NIETC designations for Phase One. In Phase Two, a preliminary list of areas being considered will be released and public comments on that list will open. In Phase Three, the DOE will develop geographic boundaries, more public comments, and go over Needs Study. Finally, in Phase Four, the DOE will release any necessary environmental documentations before final NIETC designations.
- The Department of Energy is currently accepting public comments for phase one until February 2nd. Public comments can be emailed to NIETC@hq.doe.gov
Virginia State Corporation Commission:
- In Virginia, the State Corporation Commission will be making the decision on the actual chosen route when application is submitted by NextEra. Watch this space for instructions on how to voice your opposition to this project to the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
- Watch this space for ways to share information with elected representatives about transmission lines.
- For more information about bills in the General Assembly in 2024 surrounding this issue, check out this flyer made by our collogues at the Piedmont Environmental Council
Spread the word about this issue:
- Share social media posts from the Waterford Foundation, Piedmont Environmental County, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and other organizations to strengthen local opposition.
- Tell friends, family and neighbors about this issue to broaden our base of support
Show your support by signing our online petition:
- Sign this online petition to show your opposition to the proposed transmission lines.
- Share the petition so that we are able to show large opposition in this region!
Donate to support the Waterford Foundation’s work to preserve the Waterford National Historic Landmark and oppose threats like this.
Important Upcoming Dates and Timelines:
February 2nd- Due Date to Submit Public Comments on Stage One of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor to the DOE. Public comments can be submitted via email to NIETC@hq.doe.gov
February 7th at 6:30pm- Loudoun Nonprofit Leadership Summit is taking place at the Old School in Waterford. If you are a leader/staff member of a preservation, conservation, or other related organization/stakeholder in this issue, please RSVP using this link.
May/June: Possible completion of NextEra routing study
Summer 2024: Be on the look out for community open houses hosted by NextEra about the routes.
Late 2024: Possible aim for a proposal to SCC
Resources to Learn More:
Background Information: Our colleagues at Piedmont Environmental Council have been monitoring PJM’s transmission line proposals for some time. Visit their page to view a map of the proposed path and learn more about the issue. Linked here is a video made by our collogues at the Piedmont Environmental Council providing important background to this issue. Running time is roughly eight minutes.
NextEra Information: Read more about the Mid-Atlantic Resiliency link from NextEra at their website here. Specific questions, comments, or concerns can be sent to the NextEra team using the email box on the webpage. Currently, NextEra is working on the routing study through a third party.
Loudoun County Government Role: Read more about the role of the Loudoun County government in this civic alert.
National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor: Read more about the designation process here.
In the News:
- Western Loudoun farmers say proposed power lines could put them out of business, Loudoun Times Mirror, 1/31/2024
- Newly appointed SCC judge will recuse herself from western Loudoun transmission line case, Loudoun Times Mirror, 1/24/2024
- General Assembly Appoints NextEra Attorney to SCC Seat, Loudoun Now, 1/24/2024
- Concern Grows Over Data Centers, Power Lines in Loudoun, Loudoun Now, 1/23/2024
- Department of Energy Changes Could Pose More Challenges for Power Line Opposition, Loudoun Now, 1/16/2024
- Data Center Campus Plan Hit with Community Power Concerns, Loudoun Now, 1/11/2024
- FERC Commissioner urges reform of federal transmission planning and financial incentives, Blue Ridge Leader and Loudoun Today, 1/3/2024
- Company to build transmission lines in Loudoun has history of legal problems, Blue Ridge Leader and Loudoun Today, 1/3/2024
- SCC Poised to Make Decisions on Greenway Tolls, Western Loudoun Power Lines in 2024, Loudoun Now, 1/2/2024
- See Waterford Foundation President Susan Manch’s letter to PJM here.
- Waterford Citizens’ Association letter citing alternative routes.
- Read the opposition letter from the National Park Service here.
- Opposition Letter from the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel.
- Opposition Letter from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
- Opposition Letter from the Loudoun HRDC
- November 28, 2023 letter from the Organization of PJM States (OPSI) to the PJM Board.
- December 8, 2023 letter from NextEra Energy to PJM regarding PJM staff recommendation of the acceptance of NextEra’s MidAtlantic Resiliency Link (MARL) project and citing plans to engage with local stakeholders beginning in January 2024.
- December 18, 2023 response letter from PJM about the proposed transmission lines to interested stakeholders.
- Executive Summary of Key Points on the NextEra Transmission Line
- Presentation slides from the 12/7/23 Waterford Citizens’ Association meeting.
- Meeting summary from Hamilton and Waterford Meeting provided by Board President Susan Manch.
- Comments provided by Tom Donahue for the Federal-State Task Force on Electrical Transmission.
- Fact Sheet provided by Tom Donahue about the NextEra Power Line
- Tips in Writing Letters Sheet linked here
December 5th, 2023: PJM Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee (TEAC) meets to review proposals for the Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP). See public comments associated with this meeting here. Thank you to those who sent letters of opposition!
December 11th, 2023: PJM Board approves the slate of proposed projects, including the proposal from NextEra to construct a new greenfield transmission line through the Waterford National Landmark. See details in the PJM whitepaper, here.
December 13th, 2023: Loudoun County Board of Supervisors met to adopt a new zoning ordinance in Loudoun County that includes new approval processes for data centers in Loudoun County.
December 17th, 2023: People gathered together in the Old School to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Conservation on Phillips Farm. It was a fun evening full of celebration and reminiscing. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend!
Past News Articles:
- ‘To preserve the view, you have to own it’: Waterford Foundation Marks 20 Years Since Phillips Farm Purchase, Loudoun Times Mirror, 12/27/2023
- After Zoning Ordinance Adoption the Work Continues, Loudoun Now, 12/21/2023
- Waterford Commemorates 20 Years of Phillips Farm Conservation, Loudoun Now, 12/18/23
- PJM advances proposal for transmission line in Western Loudoun, Loudoun Times Mirror, 12/13/23
- PJM Ignores Stakeholders and Approves Transmission Lines to be Built, Blue Ridge Leader and Loudoun Today, 12/12/23
- PJM Approves Proposal for 500 kV Power Lines Across Western Loudoun, Loudoun Now, 12/12/23
- PJM Board of Managers Approves Critical Grid Upgrades, PJM Inside Lines, 12/11/2023
- PJM recommends transmission line be built despite overwhelming public concern, Blue Ridge Leader and Loudoun Today, 12/7/2023
- Power Line Objections Move to PJM, Loudoun Now, 12/5/2023