Arlington, VA

This fall, a pair of electric school buses will replace two older diesel buses in the Arlington Public Schools fleet, the first trickle of an expected wave that could convert the fleet to 100 percent electric by 2030.

Dominion Energy is helping to supply the two buses, and 48 others, to 16 Virginia localities, including Arlington. Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Prince William County are among the jurisdictions receiving new buses from Dominion.

“We will be getting two buses sometime in the fall,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed to ARLnow this afternoon, following the Dominion announcement. “They will replace two buses that are next in the replacement cycle.”

The new buses will be manufactured by Thomas Built Buses, a traditional school bus manufacturer that is now producing electric models. Dominion is offsetting additional expenses associated with the electric school buses beyond the cost of a standard diesel bus.

The power company is working on a multi-phase plan to move Virginia school divisions to all-electric school bus fleets by 2030. Beyond environmental benefits, Dominion says the buses will be used, essentially, as batteries on the power grid to help supply more electricity during peak times.

More from a press release:

The electric school buses will serve as a grid resource by creating additional energy storage technology to support the company’s integration of distributed renewables such as solar and wind. The “vehicle-to-grid” technology leverages the bus batteries to store and inject energy onto the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed for transport. The buses also provide environmental and health benefits through reduced emissions and reduce operation and maintenance costs for schools by up to 60 percent.

“We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II.  “This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools.”

This initial deployment will bring electric school buses to each of the company’s operating regions. Localities were selected based on the benefit the batteries would bring to the electric grid. […]

This is just the first step in a larger initiative to replace diesel-powered buses with electric buses. Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring at least 1,000 additional electric school buses online by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes. Phase three would set the goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements in Dominion Energy’s footprint be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.

Photos via Thomas Built Buses/YouTube

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(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Nearly 400 Dominion customers are reported to be without power in the area around Wakefield High School on this snowy Tuesday night.

The outage follows a report of a live wire that fell across S. Chesterfield Road, prompting a road closure near the high school, according to police radio traffic. Dominion says the outage is caused by a tree on a power line and the estimated restoration time is between 7-10 p.m.

Currently, the outage is mostly affecting the Claremont neighborhood. Earlier, some 3,500 customers were said to be without power in Claremont and portions of surrounding neighborhoods like Shirlington and Fairlington.

Arlington County Police tweeted video of power lines sparking and an apparent transformer explosion on Chesterfield Road near Route 7, encouraging residents to “stay clear of downed trees and power lines.”

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Update at 5:15 p.m. — Power has been restored to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, but another, separate outage has been reported near Wakefield High School.

Earlier: Nearly 9,000 Dominion customers in Arlington are without power this morning.

A widespread outage is affecting portions of Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston and neighborhoods to the north, including Cherrydale and Donaldson Run.

As of 8:45 a.m. Dominion’s power outage map lists 8,844 customers without power and an estimated restoration time of 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There’s so far no word on what caused the outage.

Police are working to control traffic as some intersections with dark traffic signals, according to scanner traffic.

Update at 9:10 a.m. — The number of customers without power is down to around 3,800, with the outage now running from Virginia Square to Rosslyn, north of Clarendon Blvd, according to Dominion’s map.

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Update at 10:45 p.m. — Power has been restored to most of the outage area, but additional outages are possible overnight. On the heels of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that just expired, a Wind Advisory is now in effect until 4 a.m.:

…WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 AM EDT FRIDAY… * WHAT…WEST WINDS 15 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH EXPECTED. * WHERE…PORTIONS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, CENTRAL, NORTH CENTRAL, NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND, NORTHERN AND NORTHWEST VIRGINIA AND PANHANDLE WEST VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 4 AM EDT FRIDAY. * IMPACTS…GUSTY WINDS COULD BLOW AROUND UNSECURED OBJECTS. TREE LIMBS COULD BE BLOWN DOWN AND A FEW POWER OUTAGES MAY RESULT. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… USE EXTRA CAUTION WHEN DRIVING, ESPECIALLY IF OPERATING A HIGH PROFILE VEHICLE. SECURE OUTDOOR OBJECTS. &&

Earlier: Some 2,250 Dominion customers are in the dark this stormy Halloween night, even though the bulk of the storm has yet to move through.

The outage extends from Ballston to the south to the Donaldson Run neighborhood in the north. Power flickered even farther north of the outage area earlier tonight.

The cause of the outage is pending investigation, according to Dominion’s outage map, though breezy conditions have preceded the storm over the past two hours.

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Update at 2:45 p.m. — The outage no longer appears on Dominion’s map.

Earlier: More than 1,000 Dominion Energy customers are without power in the Ballston and Bluemont neighborhoods due to emergency utility work.

As of 1:15 p.m. Dominion’s outage map reported 1,258 outages and an estimated restoration time of 4-7 p.m. Generators could be heard running in Ballston and power was flickering off and on — or out altogether — at local stores, restaurants and offices, including the headquarters of ARLnow.

A number of Dominion trucks could be seen parked at the corner of N. Stuart Street and 9th Street N., near the Ballston Metro station. Local offices have been told that crews are working on a transformer and more power interruptions are possible this afternoon.

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(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) Three out of four lanes of Wilson Blvd in Ballston were blocked by utility work Monday morning.

The work, at the intersection of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, near the mall, was to replace a blown electrical transformer in a utility vault that’s in the middle of the westbound lanes of Wilson. Crews from Dominion Energy were on scene, along with a large, mobile crane.

We’re told the transformer went out Sunday, knocking out power to an adjacent apartment building.

All westbound lanes of Wilson Blvd were blocked approaching Ballston Quarter mall, while only one eastbound lane was closed. The lane closures caused minor backups during this morning’s rush hour.

Residents in the area have been complaining for years about excessive noise caused by vehicles — particularly trucks — driving over the utility vaults.

“The plates have been there for years, but starting in October 2018, they began making absurdly loud noises whenever cars/buses/trucks drive over them,” one tipster said in July. “Dozens of complaints have been filed on the county’s ‘reporting tool’ website… The result of the noise is that local residents at Ava Ballston Square, Origin Ballston, and other apartments are disturbed through the day and awakened at night.”

Today’s work is not expected to alleviate the noise issue. A Dominion spokeswoman noted that the vault itself is maintained by the owner of the nearby building, not the utility company.

“The grates are not ours and the work has nothing to do with replacing them,” a Dominion spokeswoman told ARLnow. “The grates top our underground vaults containing our transformers that serve the buildings along the street… Normally, you will see our transformers sitting at ground level or up high on a utility pole. The developer wanted them underground.”

As of 1:30 p.m., all lanes had reportedly reopened.

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(Updated at 8:40 p.m.) An “electrical emergency” — reportedly a utility pole being burned by a malfunctioning power line — has prompted an extended road closure in Virginia Square.

Police have closed 14th Street between N. Lincoln Street and N. Kirkwood Road, near Arlington Science Focus Elementary School, to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

“It was just called in and it is a very dangerous situation,” a firefighter could be heard telling a resident along N. Kirkwood Road around 4:30 p.m. “We don’t know how long it will be closed. It could take one hour or six, we don’t know.”

Dominion Energy crews are on scene to work on the line and the pole.

As of 8:30 p.m., 26 Dominion customers in the neighborhood were reported to still be without power.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Shooting Suspect Served Time for MurderUpdated at 8:40 a.m. — Crystal City shooting suspect Mumeet Ali Muhammad was released from prison two years ago after being convicted of a 1991 murder in Arlington. And he had recently been arrested but then released after allegedly threatening to shoot a man in D.C. and possessing a gun as a felon. [WTOP, NBC 4]

Witness Recounts Hiding in Office During Shooting — “An association employee described the scene to InsideNoVa on Thursday, saying recent active-shooter training helped employees get through the terrifying episode. ‘Everybody did precisely what they should have done,’ said the employee, who asked that his name not be published… ‘I got right up next to door, crouched down and made myself as small as possible,’ he said. ‘I heard screaming, him yelling at her, her pleading with him.'” [InsideNova]

Labor Day Closures in Arlington — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019 for Labor Day.” Trash and recycling will be collected as normal, but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]

Amazon Brain Drain Worries — “Amazon is only just starting to post job openings for its second headquarters in northern Virginia — and local startup founders are watching with apprehension. The big picture: Amazon HQ2 has the potential to turn the D.C. region into a tech hotspot, but smaller companies are worried that the short-term impact of Amazon coming to town will be a brain drain.” [Axios]

‘Clarendon Jam Session’ Sunday — “The long weekend is almost here and it’s time to celebrate with a jam session at The Lot in an urban beach party setting! $20 gets you access to CLARENDON JAM SESSION 2019.” [Instagram]

Oktoberfest Ticket Prices Increasing — Early bird $30 ticket pricing for the Crystal City Oktoberfest ends this weekend. General admission tickets will be $45 thereafter. [Eventbrite]

Dominion Funding Electric School Buses — “Schools across Virginia could have all-electric school buses by 2030, under a plan from Dominion Energy. The company said it could be the largest deployment of electric school buses in the nation… The announcement comes the same day as a Virginia State Corporation Commission reported that Dominion’s 2018 profits were higher than regulators approved.” [WAMU, Dominion, Virginia Mercury]

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Update at 7:30 p.m. — The number of Dominion customers without power is down to 1,551. The outages are mostly in the North Highlands and Courthouse neighborhoods.

Earlier: More than 4,000 Dominion customers are currently without power in Arlington County.

The outages followed a line of severe storms that rumbled through the area around 4 p.m. Firefighters responded to at least one report of a blown transformer in the wake of the storms, near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Kirkwood Road. Some residents along Lee Highway reported their power repeatedly going off and on.

Dominion’s website reported 4,367 customers without power as of 5:15 p.m. The bulk of the outages were along and just north of the Orange Line corridor, from Virginia Square to Rosslyn. Another area of outages was located in the Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge neighborhoods, near Crystal City.

Among the buildings without power was that of Arlington Independent Media, which said its TV and radio signals are both down during the outage.

There’s no word yet on when power might be restored.

More via social media:

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A power outage planned for the 3000 block of Clarendon Blvd was canceled earlier this month, but it’s back on this weekend.

According to Binyam Gebreyes, operations specialist for Dominion Energy, the earlier planned outage didn’t occur because there were difficulties accessing the necessary equipment.

“We wish to notify you that to improve the reliability of electric service, it has become necessary to replace the switch and two transformers located in a vault at 3030 Clarendon Blvd,” Gebreyes said. “The outage was initially scheduled for June 1, however after numerous attempts to remove the concrete vault top, all efforts failed. The property management company in consultation with Dominion Energy suspended the outage until they can procure other means of removing the vault top.”

The outage is now planned to start at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) and conclude on 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 23.

“We are expecting customers residing in the apartments to have electric service restored by 10 p.m. on Saturday,” Gebreyes said. “While we know this is an inconvenience to those residents and the impacted stores, we believe this planned outage is necessary to improve reliability and prevent an unplanned outage due to failing equipment.”

In addition to an apartment building, businesses on the block include Trader Joe’s, South Block, Members Cleaners, Massage Envy, Circa and Bracket Room. During the previous planned outage, Trader Joe’s said it would remain open while operating on generator power.

File photo

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Update at 5:10 p.m. — A power outage near the southern tip of the county has prompted the closure of the Fairlington Community Center, according to the parks department.

Update at 4:15 p.m. — Power has been restored to most of the residential north Arlington neighborhoods affected by the earlier outage, but the Virginia Square outage is ongoing. George Mason University’s Arlington campus closed around 3:30 p.m. as a result of the outage, which Dominion says is affecting just over 100 customers.

Earlier: A portion of residential north Arlington is without power, ahead of the arrival of a line of storms.

The outage was reported amid calm weather, with more than 500 Dominion customers affected and a restoration time of 5-8 p.m., according to the power company’s online map. Earlier Thursday afternoon, nearly 2,500 customers were reported to be in the dark.

The cause of the outage is listed as “pending investigation.” Among the affected neighborhoods are Dover Crystal, Riverwood, Woodmont and Maywood.

A smaller outage was also reported in the Virginia Square area this afternoon.

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