Alexandria, VA

(Updated 2:05 p.m.) Alexandrians have had to deal with a frustrating uptick in power outages this year, and Mayor Justin Wilson said locals are getting tired of it.

The city has faced several large-scale power outages in 2020 — including a particularly large one in October that hit 12,750 residents in Del Ray, North Ridge, Rosemont, Seminary Hill and Potomac Yard. Dominion representatives said the outage was a fluke, but city representatives pointed to the recent spate of outages as evidence to the contrary. In a letter sent yesterday, Wilson outlined local concerns and what Dominion can do to improve the situation.

“Unfortunately, I write in frustration on behalf of the 160,000 residents of the City of Alexandria, of which 66,039 are direct customers of Dominion Energy,” Wilson wrote. “The residents of our community are frustrated with the recent reliability of the electricity service that they have received, Dominion’s response to these reliability challenges and the lack of meaningful infrastructure investments planned to prevent these challenges in the future.”

In the letter, Wilson listed 16 large-scale outages between April and December.

“As you know, the City has worked with Dominion to make the large-scale infrastructure investments required to improve reliability,” Wilson said. “Over six years ago, when Dominion approached the City seeking to construct a 230KV transmission line across out community using municipal right-of-way, we convened a multi-year community process, at taxpayer expense, to work with dominion to determine the proper route. After years of work, Dominion chose to abandon the project.”

Wilson also said that for the last 15 years, the city has been sharing funding with Dominion to perform utility under-grounding and has been requiring new private and public sector development to be undergrounded — only to find that very few undergrounding projects have been undertaken by Dominion.

“In fact, it has been the City’s efforts, either through development proffers or taxpayer-funded projects that have led to most of the undergrounding efforts in recent years,” Wilson said.

In response to the concerns, Wilson asked Dominion for:

  1. A multi-year infrastructure investment plan to improve reliability of electricity service for the City of Alexandria, including appropriate exercise of all available authority under the Grid Transformation and Security Act to accelerate implementation
  2. Improved transparency for customers relating to reliability data and recovery performance
  3. An enhanced Service Level commitment for customer requests (street light repairs, property constructoin/renovation, municipal projects, etc)

The letter was sent and signed by the City Council, along with City Manager Mark Jinks and five members of the Alexandria General Assembly delegation.

“We understand how critical reliable energy is for our customers,” said Dominion spokesperson Peggy Fox. “We take these concerns seriously and work to continually improve our service.”

Photo via Dominion Energy/Facebook

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