Dominion Energy Inc., the U.S. utility giant that came under fire for overcharging its customers by almost $380 million, wants to keep the money and spend it on grid upgrades.
The Virginia power company proposed using some of the extra cash to help install almost a million smart meters, create an online "customer information platform" and add more devices to the grid that could help prevent blackouts. It's part of a plan that the state rejected in January, calling it too costly. The utility has come back with a more modest proposal and a smaller price tag of $594 million, down from more than $1 billion.
While all of the above sounds like upgrades that would ultimately help the customer (and that might happen at the ratepayer's expense at some point anyway), the messaging here is the hard part-- just look at the headline in this Bloomberg article. Customers are going to be indignant that the utility that wronged them and took too much money is now going to 'keep' that money (at least that's going to be a prevailing view).
So while this is an interesting story from a grid perspective, I wanted to share it to Customer Care community to see what everyone thought-- what's the best way for Dominion to get out ahead of this and assure customers that these upgrades are benefitting them?