It’s taken a few days to analyze HB1558, the so-called “bipartisan” bill (translation: Dominion wrote it, with support from their bought-and-paid-for lackeys like Dick Saslaw, Frank Wagner and Terry Kilgore – in the General Assembly) “to end Dominion rate freeze, promise rebates.” The results so far more than confirm the initial impression of a top Virginia energy/enviro expert that the bill “[g]ives Dominion everything they want with precious little for ratepayers and makes Dominion do nothing they didn’t already want to do.” Here are a few reactions so far; I’ll add more as I get them and/or see them.
Appalachian Voices Executive Director Tom Cormons: “This bill is bad policy and dangerous, giving Dominion even more power over our lives and our future. For far too long, the legislature has gone along with the monopoly’s plans, and it’s high time for our elected representatives to finally say ‘no’ to Dominion…The relief promised to Dominion customers today is in large part a response to the new federal tax law, but Dominion is using that as a headline to distract our attention from its long-term strategy to boost its profits at our expense. The rate freeze Dominion pushed through in 2015 was a blatant money grab, but this is far more dangerous, allowing the monopoly to increase its profits going forward by skirting State Corporation Commission approval of expenditures that line company coffers and jack up rates on families and small businesses.”
Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) Director Mike Tidwell: “Dominion Energy’s just-released legislative package on energy-rate overcharges is bad for ratepayers. The bill is an insult to ratepayers by returning barely one out of five dollars taken from customers in overcharges since 2015. It weakens oversight from state regulators of Dominion’s new habit of over-charging customers. And it allows Dominion to control, manipulate, and ultimately keep in its pocket hundreds of millions of dollars in recent customer overcharges that the company does not deserve, has not earned, and has no right to keep. The simple solution is for the company to give back all of the money taken from ratepayers. That is the only solution Richmond lawmakers should accept in a reform bill.”
Virginia Sierra Club Director Kate Addleson: “This bill would need a lot of work before we could support it. As of today, we see a bill that does not address our primary concerns about the rate freeze. There is no real commitment to expanding clean energy in this bill. Saying that clean energy is in the public interest is not the same as requiring action.”
P.S. Also see these comments by Stephen Haner of the Virginia Poverty Law Center: “The preemptive attack on any potential show of independence by the [State Corporation Commission – SCC] launched by Saslaw and Wagner [last] Monday must be viewed as the first of what will be many brushback pitches in the game just beginning. The outcome Virginia consumers should be hoping for is a return to full SCC authority and an almost immediate rate case to review the earnings during the recent regulatory holiday. It does not sound as though that is the plan the leading senators have in mind.”