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Energy News Network: Virginia Bill will Put More Pressure on Dominion Energy to Justify Cost Recovery

Posted by Elizabeth McGowan on Apr 6, 2020

Energy News Network covered Virginia House Bill 528 that increases state regulators authority over monopoly utilities, and the Virginia Clean Economy Act, quoting AEE's J.R. Tolbert. Read excerpts below and the entire Energy News Network piece here. 

A scantly noticed bill curated by a freshman legislator from northern Virginia elicited giant cheers from Dominion Energy watchdogs when it passed both the Senate and the House of Delegates just seven days before the General Assembly adjourned on March 12. Though overshadowed by the Virginia Clean Economy Act, supporters view the success of House Bill 528 as a momentous first effort to shift power from utility monopolies and toward regulators and ratepayers...

Some advocates intent on reining in Dominion emphasized that legislators found voting for the Clean Economy Act more palatable after Subramanyam’s bill passed, even though it wasn’t as comprehensive as the Fair Energy Bills Act. An analysis by state regulators said the Clean Economy Act would lead to Dominion collecting $50.8 billion more from its ratepayers. But J.R. Tolbert, the managing director for the Advanced Energy Economy, questioned the accuracy of the commission’s math. He said a Lakes Energy study commissioned by his organization was more spot-on. It predicted customers’ monthly bills would drop by about $4 a month between 2020 and 2030.

Tolbert attributed legislators’ attempts to constrain Dominion this session to years of frustration by lawmakers and clean energy advocates in the trenches. Strategic thinking and the first Democratic majority in both chambers in a generation allowed that pent-up anger to be released. “We reached a full boil on how we handle and address Dominion’s rates and everything else,” said Tolbert, who has tracked the General Assembly since 2008, the year after Virginia electric utilities returned to a regulatory model. “This year there was an enormous push for more accountability.”

The coalition that crafted the Clean Economy Act chose to achieve 100% clean energy without breaking the bank, he said. “We know there are flaws in the current regulatory regime,” he continued. “But we can’t fix and change that regulatory model and put Virginia on a path to clean energy in the same package...”

“We tried to fight for things that achieve the goals but take into account the impact on ratepayers, families and businesses,” Tolbert said. “Are there places where it could have been better or stronger? Yes...” 

Read the entire Energy News Network piece here. 

Topics: AEE In The News