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Power outage in Alexandria on 11/2 (image via Dominion Energy)

(Updated 12:20 p.m.) Over 4,000 Dominion Energy customers were without power earlier today in a large outage covering a swath of central Alexandria, from Seminary Hill to Del Ray.

Dominion estimated 4,365 customers were impacted by the outage.

The outage was reported around 11:30, but was resolved by 12:20.

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New utility poles installed by Dominion Energy (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

As in Arlington, the discussion of undergrounding power lines has been on the minds of a lot of folks in Alexandria.

The scope of outages hit a breaking point in Alexandria in 2021 when a widespread power outage derailed the Art on the Avenue festival, sparking a new battle between city leaders and Dominion Energy.

Dominion’s been working on improvements to the city’s infrastructure, but city leaders still say there’s a long way to go toward making the city’s power grid reliable.

Last year, Alan Bradshaw, vice president of strategic partnerships for Dominion Energy, told ALXnow that undergrounding all utilities in Alexandria would be outlandishly expensive.

Northern Virginia Magazine previously reported that the price tag for state-wide undergrounding is around $80 billion. Dominion has said undergrounding utilities isn’t just costly, it’s complicated as well — needing easements to access properties for undergrounding work.

So, like ARLnow, we’re wondering: should Dominion Energy step up its undergrounding efforts or are you mostly content with the current improvement plans?

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(Updated 1:25 p.m.) Alexandria is still clearing downed trees and in the wake of Saturday’s severe storm.

No one was reportedly injured in Saturday’s storm, which cut off power to an estimated 15,000 residents. As of Monday at around noon, there were still 131 households without power throughout Alexandria, according to Dominion Energy.

Some residents say they haven’t gotten a response from the city after a large tree fell through three properties in the 300 block of Queen Street.

“We can’t get the city out here one block from City Hall on a tree that’s city property, covering a city sidewalk on top of a city sign and over a city road,” said Scott Corzine on Queen Street. “We need somebody to take responsibility from the city to tell us if they are going to come take this tree down and this hazard to the community. We’re waiting to hear from someone and their response has been underwhelming to say the least.”

The street has since been partially closed for tree removal.

The city said debris, down traffic signals, and other issues can be reported to the city by calling 703 746 4444 or contacting Alex311.

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Dominion Energy’s Glebe Electric Transmission Project in Potomac Yard just got a little more attractive.

Since last winter, the parking lot in the 3800 block of Richmond Highway in Potomac Yard has been home to a tall, ugly concrete structure to hide the work Dominion has been doing to create underground electric transmission lines and rebuild and modernize the Glebe Substation in nearby Arlington County.

The sound walls will be up until at least the end of the year, and to make their appearance easier on the eyes Dominion just unveiled two giant posters showing Potomac Yard in the future by local artist Lea Craigie.

Craigie, who was the official 2022 National Cherry Blossom artist, digitally created two 23-foot-by-30-foot posters for the project. A poster depicting an evening scene faces Richmond Highway, while the other poster faces the parking lot.

“These walls weren’t the most pleasant things to look at,” Craigie said. “I want people to feel happy and peaceful when they look at my art. I also want them to think about the environment. In my pieces you’ll see electric chargers on the cars, solar panels, trains, wind turbines, and a diverse mix of people.”

The project timeline is below.

The Glebe Electric Transmission Project timeline (via Dominion Energy)
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New utility poles installed by Dominion Energy (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Some changes from Virginia’s General Assembly mean Alexandria residents, along with others across the state, will see a lower energy bill this month.

Dominion Energy Virginia said in a release that rates will go down by about $14 a month for most residential customers and potentially lower for non-residential customers.

“The rate reduction was enabled by bipartisan legislation passed in the 2023 Virginia General Assembly, which eliminated about $7 in monthly charges,” the release from Dominion said. “The law also allowed the company to seek regulatory approval to spread fuel costs over a multi-year period, which lowers the monthly fuel charge by an additional $7. The lower fuel charge will remain on an interim basis, pending Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) approval of the company’s long-term fuel securitization proposal.”

Rate negotiation was a big part and somewhat complicated part of the legislative docket in the state government earlier this year. There was bipartisan agreement on bills that spread out increased charges across multiple years, a process called securitization.

Dominion has come under fire from Alexandria leadership in recent years for the shoddy state of the city’s power grid, but there seem to be some signs of the rift healing as city leaders express some — albeit extremely skeptical — enthusiasm for new improvements the company is making to the city’s infrastructure.

“At a time when consumers are paying higher prices for most goods and services, we’re pleased to lower our customers’ rates,” said Ed Baine, President of Dominion Energy Virginia, in the release. “This will provide immediate relief for our customers now and ongoing savings in the future. It’s an important part of our mission of delivering reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy to our customers.”

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It’s been two years since Alexandria leadership put Dominion Energy’s feet to the fire over frequent outages. Dominion said it’s been making good on promises to improve the city’s power infrastructure, but city leaders are a little more skeptical.

Near the intersection of West Braddock Road and Russell Road in the Braddock neighborhood, Allen Moon, superintendent of contractor resource management with Dominion Energy, ran down the list of projects ongoing around Alexandria, from changing poles to targeted improvements in specific neighborhoods.

Moon said Dominion assesses which areas see the most outages and target their improvements accordingly. Most recently, 43 poles were replaced along Kenmore Avenue. Dominion has also replaced 30 transformers over the past few months.

“Residents should be excited,” Moon said. “Grid hardening has meant voltage optimization, which improves customer reliability.”

Moon said the Dominion team is starting to plan out projects for the next year. In particular, Moon said Dominion is working on getting permits and easements for projects like undergrounding, which could require digging on private property.

Access to private property is one of the larger challenges for Dominion on Alexandria, especially with many of the power lines running behind properties where bucket trucks can’t reach.

“Alexandria is very tight, it’s a very tight space,” Moon said. “It can be challenging to get large pieces of equipment in. There are a lot of lines behind homes and that can be uncomfortable.”

Moon said Alexandrians should still expect outages in strong storms, but that in general the power grid should be more reliable.

Dominion’s plans for the upcoming year include more work in Del Ray, near William Ramsay Elementary School and on North Jordan Street.

The breaking point for some in Alexandria was the widespread outage during the Art on the Avenue festival in 2021. Moon said all of the equipment from that outage has been fully replaced and upgraded.

City leaders say that while there have been improvements, there’s still a long way to go before Dominion’s fully back in the city’s good graces.

“Going back a couple of years here with the Art on the Avenue debacle when all the businesses lost power… and that was in the core of Covid when we were trying to get businesses back up and running: that was disappointing, to say the least,” said Vice Mayor Amy Jackson. “I think since that time, they’ve tried to put their best foot forward in creating strong community partnerships.”

Both Jackson and Mayor Justin Wilson said communications between Dominion and the City of Alexandria have — mostly — improved.

“Our staff has continued to meet with Dominion to better define the investment in reliability that they have committed to provide,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “We have received some information, but we still expect significantly more investment to improve reliability for Alexandria’s ratepayers.”

Jackson said Dominion’s improvements have been noticeable but there are still significant areas that need improvement. In particular, Jackson said she’s been frustrated with the difficulties of getting power connected to the new Douglas MacArthur school.

“We have a new school trying to get connected to get kids through the door in August and [Alexandria City Public Schools] is having issues getting it online because of Dominion,” Jackson said.

Overall, though, Jackson said there’s been some improvement.

“Can I see the progress? Yes, they’re trying,” Jackson said. “A for effort, but I’m not going to say we’re at the level yet where we say ‘okay, great, fantastic, everything is efficient.'”

Jackson said she also wants to see companies like Dominion Energy putting its money where its mouth is more frequently for community partnerships.

“It’s been interesting to see, as an aside, Ting has done a phenomenal job coming in with boots on the ground and creating partnerships, the same thing happened with the Innovation Campus,” Jackson said. “Before it was built, they had people come into the community and be a part of the community and support everything, giving dollars to events and festivals and being a part of Alexandria.”

Jackson said Dominion has gotten a little better about that in recent years as well.

“Dominion has gotten that message through and through, they were just one of our sponsors for the Portside Festival,” Jackson said. “They are trying and I do believe communication has gotten somewhat better… I do believe they are trying and trying to help our community, but I don’t see them being as visible as Ting or the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. Community partnership means you are there with us with your name all over every banner as a sponsor. That’s how you show you’re in the community.”

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Power outage in Alexandria on May 30 (image via Dominion Energy)

A power outage hit over 4,300 Dominion Energy customers across Alexandria, but within an hour it seems most of that has been restored..

Dominion Energy said there were 4,364 customers without power across Alexandria this morning, but as of 10:45 p.m. that was down to scattered pockets like 156 customers without power in North Ridge.

The cause is listed as a circuit going out and the estimated time of restoration was listed as between 1-4 p.m., but the outage was fixed within the hour.

The large-scale outage is the latest in an ongoing saga of outages in Alexandria. Dominion Energy said last year it would invest $17 million over the next three years to improve reliability in Alexandria.

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Power outage on March 10 (photo via Dominion Energy)

(Updated 9:30 a.m.) Another day, another massive power outage in Alexandria. This time, there’s a corvid to blame.

There were around 4,251 residents in a stretch of Alexandria from the Braddock neighborhood up to Potomac Yard and Lynhaven without power this morning, according to Dominion Energy’s power outage map, though as of 9:20 a.m. the largest outage has been restored.

The cause for the outage is listed as “circuit out.” Dominion Energy spokesperson Peggy Fox said on social media that an investigation found a crow flew into a critical power line.

There was a second, overlapping outage in Arlandria, with another 489 customers without power, though as of 9:30 a.m. that seems to have been fixed too. The last remaining outage from this morning was at the southern end of Del Ray with 175 customers without power.

Del Ray was hit with a large power outage two days ago. Another in the Arlandria/Parkfairfax neighborhood last week affected 3,000 residents.

Alexandria had suffered repeated large-scale outages in recent years, including one infamous outage in 2021 that ruined the 2021 Art On The Avenue festival for many businesses in Del Ray.

Around this time last year, Dominion leadership spoke to Alexandria’s City Council and promised to invest $17 million into the utility company’s infrastructure in Alexandria to improve reliability. Some city leaders pushed for Dominion to underground more power lines — keeping them away from crows, just as an example — but Dominion leadership said the price of undergrounding across Alexandria was too “outlandish.”

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Power outage in Del Ray (image via Dominion Energy)

Del Ray residents were in for a rude awakening this morning as many discovered early this morning that power to the neighborhood was out.

As of 8:45 a.m., most of that power has been restored, but Dominion said 367 residents at the north end of the neighborhood still remain in the dark.

The Dominion Energy map indicated restoration of power is estimated at sometime between noon and 3 p.m.

At the peak of the outage this morning there were around 2,100 Del Ray residents without power. Dominion Energy spokesperson Peggy Fox said on social media the outage was caused by an underground issue. The problem was isolated and both schools in the affected area have been restored.

Image via Dominion Energy

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One of Alexandria’s power outages in the West End (image via Dominion Energy)

(Updated 5:15 p.m.) As a severe thunderstorm sweeps through Alexandria, Dominion Energy says there are around 2,992 customers in the city without power.

Dominion’s outage map showed that there was a large outage — 3,705 without power — along Duke Street and southern Seminary Hill that has since disappeared from the map. Another large outage — 1,557 customers — is reported just west between James K. Polk Elementary School and Beauregard Street.

As of 5 p.m., Alexandria is under severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings.

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