Hope Swears Off Campaign Cash from Dominion, Calls on Fellow Democrats to Follow Suit

Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) is swearing off campaign contributions from Dominion Energy and calling on his fellow Democrats to do the same, becoming the latest in a line of state lawmakers to reject money from one of Virginia’s only regulated monopolies.

Hope announced at his annual pancake breakfast Saturday (Jan. 5) that he’ll now stop accepting campaign cash from the electric utility, according to a video posted by the Democratic blog Blue Virginia. Hope has accepted $9,500 from Dominion since he was first elected back in 2009, but decided to stop doing so as he gears up to run for a sixth term in office this fall.

“I’ve heard from a lot of my constituents that the perception that you’re taking money is influencing your vote, whether it’s true or not,” Hope told attendees. “I can’t give enough speeches to convince my constituents that I’m voting not because they gave me a check, but because it’s the right thing to do. And I’m tired of making that speech over and over.”

Hope added that “every single Democrat that’s running for office should make that commitment” to refuse Dominion dollars, and many around the state already have.

Dominion has long been one of the top political donors in the whole state, yet politicians of both parties have increasingly argued that members of the General Assembly shouldn’t accept money from a company they’re charged with regulating — just last year, lawmakers oversaw an extensive rewrite of the state’s regulatory authority over electric utilities like Dominion.

The activist group Activate Virginia brought a focus to the issue during the last round of state elections in 2017, eliciting a pledge from dozens of Democrats running for the House of Delegates to refuse the company’s money.

Some of Arlington’s legislative delegation also followed suit, including Dels. Mark Levine (D-45th District), Alfonso Lopez (D-49th District) and Rip Sullivan (D-48th District). Lopez, like Hope, did previously accept Dominion contributions in the past, taking in about $4,500 since he was first elected in 2012.

The county’s three state senators, however, all still take thousands from Dominion. Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) has accepted $50,000 from the company over the course of her long career, while Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st District) has taken in $9,500 and Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th District) has pulled in $12,500. Local Democratic activist Nicole Merlene even recently launched a primary challenge against Favola, calling for a ban on contributions from state-regulated utilities as part of her campaign.

But Hope sees a sea change coming in Virginia politics on the issue. Attorney General Mark Herring became one of the most senior Democrats in the state to refuse Dominion cash when he announced he wouldn’t accept any of the company’s money as he ramps up a campaign for governor for the 2021 cycle, and Hope “wholeheartedly” endorsed the former Loudoun state senator’s nascent bid to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam.

“I’m going to take the same commitment he made because I don’t want him to be the only one there making it,” Hope said, with Herring in attendance.

Northam himself rolled out a series of campaign finance reform proposals today (Monday), officially announcing his support for a ban on all corporate campaign contributions. Unlike 2017 primary rival Tom Perriello, Northam accepted nearly $73,000 in contributions from Dominion over the course of the gubernatorial campaign, but he pledged to push a ban on corporate cash once he was elected.

However, unless Democrats win an uphill battle in convincing the Republicans controlling both chambers of the General Assembly to embrace such a change, Northam plans to continue accepting such donations for his political action committee.

“Until we’re able to do that, I will continue to operate in the existing landscape,” Northam told reporters.

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More Than 1,000 Without Power in Arlington

Update at 3:40 p.m. — Only 13 Dominion customers remain without power in Arlington.

Earlier: Parts of north and south Arlington are without power on this snowy Tuesday night.

Dominion’s power outage map is showing outages near the Westover neighborhood in the north and around Wakefield High School in the south. Just over 1,000 customers are without electricity, according to the company.

Thus far there is no estimated restoration time.

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Dominion Crews Still Working to Fully Restore Power in Arlington

Some 330 Dominion customers in Arlington were still without power Monday morning, following Friday’s intense, prolonged wind storm.

Dominion crews worked throughout the weekend to restore electricity in Northern Virginia. The few hundred without power in Arlington was down from more than 14,000 as of Friday evening.

The power outages in Arlington are mostly smaller, with a few homes or a single home affected in a given area. Sometimes the outage is the result of the service line being ripped from the house by a falling tree.

Dominion is estimating full restoration to be complete by 11 p.m. Tuesday, according to its website.

The company says the “#windmageddon” storm is among the top 5 most damaging storms in Dominion history, with about 700,000 customers losing power. Dominion had nearly 4,000 personnel working to restore power over the weekend, including hundreds called in from out of state.

More via social media:

Map via Dominion

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Dominion: More Than 14,000 Arlingtonians Still Without Power

(Updated at 7:35 p.m.) Friday’s wind storm has taken a toll on Arlington, sending trees toppling onto cars, houses and across roads, and knocking out power to tens of thousands.

As of 7:30 p.m., Dominion reported 14,663 customers without power in Arlington. An hour earlier, it appeared that the numbers were finally dropping, but thanks to continued strong winds it has, in fact, gone up.

A Dominion outage map showed that a large swath of residential North Arlington and a significant portion of the Fairlington neighborhood was without power as the sun started to set.

Across the D.C. region, nearly 600,000 were in the dark as of early evening.

Arlington County Police say they’ve responded to more than 250 calls for service since this morning, including 66 calls for trees down.

To help with the cleanup, which is expected to take at least a few days, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency.

“The order is designed to help Virginia mitigate any damage caused by high winds and to streamline the process that the Commonwealth uses to provide assistance to communities impacted,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

A High Wind Warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Gusty winds are expected to continue overnight as the nor’easter makes its way north and pummels New England.

The National Weather Service says it clocked a wind gust of 71 miles per hour at Dulles International Airport earlier today. NWS is urging those in the D.C. area to remain vigilant as the winds continue to gust.

Widespread power outages are occurring. Travel is dangerous, especially for high profile vehicles, and motorists need to be aware of rapidly changing road conditions due to the potential of downed trees and power lines. Pedestrians will face very hazardous conditions, and need to be aware of wind-borne projectiles. People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches. If possible, remain in the lower levels of your homes during the windstorm, and avoid windows. If you use a portable generator, follow manufacturer’s instructions and do not use inside homes, garages, or apartments.

More local weather impacts via social media, after the jump.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaFD/status/969703660052762625

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Power Outages in Arlington Tick Up Past 10,000

(Update at 10:50 a.m.) More than 10,000 Dominion customers are currently without power in Arlington, according to the company’s website.

Numerous reports of downed trees, branches and power lines around the county have been rolling in over the past few hours as today’s “high impact” wind storm continues to roar across the D.C. region.

As of as of 10:45 a.m., Dominion was reporting 11,409 customers without electricity in Arlington. Parts of the county affected include large portions of residential North Arlington neighborhoods, as seen on the map about.

Among a growing list of road closures around the county due to downed trees, police are blocking the 6000 block of Washington Blvd, just west of Westover, for a large tree across the road. Another significant road closure is N. Harrison Street between 26th Street N. and Lee Highway.

The fire department has kept busy, calling for staff to volunteer to work a double shift into the afternoon and making frequent trips to buildings where power outages have resulted in stuck elevators.

The Arlington County Police Department is advising residents to steer well clear of downed power lines and trees and to “remain aware of your surroundings and secure your belongings” today. The National Weather Service says the strongest wind gusts are expected through noon, though damaging winds are expected to continue into Friday night.

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Morning Notes

Garbage Truck Crash — Among a number of other potentially weather-related crashes this morning, a garbage truck ran into a utility pole on the 4600 block of 27th Street N., near Marymount University. Dominion crews responded to the scene for a report of downed power lines. No injuries were reported.

Four Mile Run Valley Meeting Cancelled — A meeting of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, scheduled for tonight, has been cancelled. The cancellation is due to county staff reviewing “key pieces of the 4MRV transportation analysis,” the county wrote. “Staff will provide an update on the process schedule and timeline at the next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6.” [Arlington County]

Lee Highway Planning Moving Forward — “Funded with two county grants, donations and sponsorships, the Lee Highway Alliance is now back on the front burner of Arlington’s planning agenda, said county board Chairman Katie Cristol, who promised forward movement in the next couple of months.” Meanwhile, businesses along Lee Highway are generally supportive of redevelopment, according to the alliance. [Falls Church News-Press]

ACFD Helps Battle Fairfax Fire — Arlington County firefighters assisted Fairfax County on an apartment fire near Tysons Corner early this morning. About 34 residents were displaced by the fire. [Twitter, Twitter]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Crash Downs Pole, Blocks Arlington Ridge Road

Arlington Ridge Road is blocked by a downed utility pole following a crash, according to scanner traffic.

A vehicle reportedly ran into the pole along the 1900 block of Arlington Ridge Road, toppling it and blocking the street. At least one person is being evaluated for injuries by paramedics.

Arlington Ridge Road, a busy commuter route for those exiting from I-395, is closed between 19th and 20th Streets S. Police are on scene directing traffic.

Image via Google Map

 

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More Than 1,000 Without Power in Arlington

Several power outages were reported in Arlington Saturday morning.

Small outages were reported along Columbia Pike and in the Westover neighborhood, while larger outages were affecting the Shirlington and Fairlington areas and the neighborhood around Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

According to Dominion’s website, 1,025 customers are without power in Arlington as of 9:45 a.m. For each of the Arlington outages, power is expected to be restored by 4 or 5 p.m.

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Nearly 8,000 in Arlington Without Power, Major Metro Delays Reported

(Updated at 7:10 p.m.) More than 8,000 Dominion customers in Arlington lost electricity after a powerful storm blew through the area.

As of 5:30 p.m. Dominion was reporting 8,089 without power in Arlington, including in the Fairlington neighborhood and along Lee Highway. Some traffic lights were said to be dark on Lee Highway, including at the busy intersection of Lee Highway and Fairfax Drive.

As of 7 p.m., the number of outages had fallen to 6,039.

Several instances of downed trees, downed power lines and people stuck in elevators were reported around the county.

Meanwhile, major delays were reported on Metro’s Orange, Silver and Blue lines due to a tree that struck a train near the Dunn Loring station during the storm.

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Large Power Outage in Clarendon Area

Update at 7:50 p.m. — The number of outages in Arlington is down to 200, according to Dominion.

Earlier: More than 5,500 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington following this afternoon’s storms, mostly in and around the Clarendon area.

The Clarendon outage extends from Wilson Blvd down to N. Bedford Street in Lyon Park, near Route 50. Numerous businesses in the area are without power and the busy intersection of Washington Blvd and 10th Street N.

As of 4:50 p.m. Dominion was reporting 5,542 outages in Arlington, with some smaller outages scattered throughout the county. There have also been reports of trees and utility wires down in the roadway in various locations, and at least one tree that fell and damaged a house.

The Arlington County Police Department is reminding drivers to treat dark traffic signals as a four-way stop.

Power outage map (top) via Dominion. Weather radar via weather.com.

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BREAKING: Tree Down on Power Lines, Brush Fire Along Four Mile Run Drive

Update at 2:30 p.m. — The fire has been extinguished and Four Mile Run Drive is expected to reopen shortly. The access road is expected to remain closed until the fallen tree is removed.

Update at 2:15 p.m. — Electricity has been shut off to the fallen power lines and firefighters are now working to extinguish the brush fire.

Earlier: A tree has fallen on power lines and sparked a growing brush fire along Four Mile Run Drive.

The incident was first reported by a passerby just after 1 p.m.

Initial reports suggest a large tree fell across the Four Mile Run Drive access road, striking a power line. That sparked a brush fire in the dry grass below, which as of 1:20 p.m. continues to burn.

The fire department cannot extinguish the wildfire around the power line until Dominion Power crews arrive and shut off the power, according to scanner traffic. As of 1:40 p.m. the flames were nearing vehicles parked along the access road.

Residents should expect “a lot of smoke in the area,” according to a police officer on scene. Police have shut down traffic in both directions on the access road near S. Wakefield Street and are preparing to shut down the mainline Four Mile Run Drive.

Photo courtesy Alex Chamandy, John Chandler

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Meadow Saved By County Board Clearcut for Invasive Species Control

A small meadow preserved by the Arlington County Board, which overruled a plan to build a connector trail from the W&OD Trail to Carlin Springs Road, has been clearcut as a result of invasive species control measures.

The meadow was the subject of a mini-controversy in 2015, which saw civic activist Bernie Berne and others argue that building a 220-foot connector trail would destroy natural plant life and increase runoff into Four Mile Run.

The County Board agreed and voted against the plan from county staff, which proposed a connector trail in response to demand from cyclists seeking a better way to access Carlin Springs Road. (The meadow had an existing “cow path” from frequent off-roading by trail users.)

Though preserved at the time, the meadow was recently mowed down and stripped of most plant life. A sign indicates that it was done by Dominion as part of its invasive species control measures along power line right-of-ways, like the W&OD Trail.

Photos (1-2) courtesy Chris Slatt

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Large Power Outage in Pentagon City

Pentagon City power outage 3/14/17

Traffic lights are dark and nearly 2,200 Dominion customers are without power in the Pentagon City area.

So far there’s no word on what caused the outage.

Arlington County firefighters, meanwhile, are currently investigating a possible electrical fire — now out — at the Park at Pentagon Row apartments (801 15th Street S.).

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Morning Notes

Train in Clarendon Metro station (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)

Sale of Reeves Farmhouse Moves Forward — From a press release following yesterday’s Arlington County Board meeting: “The Arlington County Manager today recommended that the County move forward with the sale of the historic Reeves farmhouse, and that the County not be a financial partner in the farmhouse’s restoration and reuse.” [Arlington County]

‘No Systemic Problem’ Led to High Water Bills — Arlington County says it has investigated resident complaints about unusually high water bills and found “no systemic problem.” Errors in billing or meter-reading were found in only five percent of complaints, the county said, adding that customer-side leaks and a hot and dry summer help to explain many of the remaining cases. [Arlington County]

Arlington Millennials Willing to Move — According to a new study, 77.5 percent of Millennials in Arlington say they would leave the region for the right job offer. That’s the highest response of any D.C. area jurisdiction surveyed. Millennials make up 35-40 percent of Arlington’s population, but real estate affordability remains a concern. Only 28 percent of Millennials in Arlington said they can afford to buy a home in the D.C. area. [Washington Business Journal]

Another Phone Scam Warning — Arlington residents are getting phone calls from scammers claiming to be Dominion Virginia Power technicians collecting unpaid electric bills. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity,” warns the Arlington County Police Department. [Arlington County]

Talk By Black Man Who Befriends KKK Members — Daryl Davis, a musician who befriends KKK members and convinces them to leave the organization, gave a talk in Arlington earlier this week. Of our current political climate, he said: “This is the best thing that has happened to this country because we have been so much in denial of racism in this country, xenophobia and all these kinds of things… Now we can no longer turn a blind eye to it.” [Fox 5]

Arlington’s ‘Cafe Urbanism’ — A new article in a publication written for state and local government officials asks poses the question: “Hip restaurants have helped revive cities. But is the boom fizzling out?” As a prime example, the article cites recent restaurant closures in Clarendon. [Governing]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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Scattered Power Outages Remain Throughout Arlington

Nearly 900 Dominion customers are still without power in Arlington as of 5 p.m. Monday, with numerous small outages scattered across the county.

That’s down from more than 6,500 outages last night, after an initial line of 60+ mile per hour wind gusts swept through the area. The strong winds continued through this afternoon but have since died down.

Dominion’s power outage map shows the two biggest power outages are in the Highgate/Colonial Terrace community in the Rosslyn area, and along 26th Street N./31st Street N., near Marymount University, where photos (above and via Twitter) show at least one tree down in the roadway and a power pole snapped in half.

Dominion is estimating that power will be restored by 11 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, for each outage.

In all, around 3,000 Dominion customers are still in the dark around Northern Virginia.

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