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Virginia Ratepayers Should Keep an Eye on the State Senate

Virginia’s monopoly utility, Dominion Energy, lost a major battle Wednesday when the Virginia Senate approved a bill restoring state regulators' oversight of how electric utilities can write off certain costs. Dominion has strongly opposed the vote and was able to convince the Senate to reconsider, putting off a final decision.

The bill’s fate is still uncertain as it remains one of the most contentious topics between the Senate and the House as this year's legislative comes to a close on Saturday.

Even with Wednesday’s setback, Dominion is still set to score major victories that will boost its bottom line in this legislative session. The Clean Economy Act lays would mandate that Dominion expand its offshore wind generation, solar or onshore wind generation and use of battery storage technology.

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has estimated Dominion would collect approximately $50.8 billion from Virginia customers due to the provisions in the Clean Economy Act and would earn about $12.5 billion in profit over the life of the facilities after taxes, according to an Associated Press report.

The SCC has estimated that implementing the bill would result in an annual minimum increase for the typical residential customer's bill of $333.60 a year for the years 2027-2030. The legislation voted on Wednesday requires the SCC to establish a recovery period that best serves ratepayers.

The measure reverses a provision of a 2018 law that gave Dominion broad accounting flexibility that lets the company avoid having to pay refunds or lower its rates.

The SCC said Dominion earned $277 million in excessive profits in 2018 and $300 million the year before. If passed, this year's bill wouldn't necessarily mean customers would get rebates because the 2018 law gives Dominion other avenues to avoid having to lower rates.

This article first appeared on Energy Choice Coalition 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 31, 2020 9:20 pm GMT

It seems for years that Virginia was slow on utility issues, but in the past year or two they've really seen some movement when it comes to clean energy progress and debates that are benefitting ratepayers. Any insights on what may have changed recently to prompt a more agile environment in the state?

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