From Clean Virginia:
Dominion overcharged Virginia customers by over $1 billion, according to state regulators
Utility-friendly state laws still restrain regulatory agency from full authority during rate case
Richmond — Dominion Energy has overcharged customers by over $1.1 billion, according to Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) staff in the latest development of Dominion’s rate case, the first time in six years that regulators can examine the monopoly’s earnings and what customers pay for energy. Due to utility-friendly state laws, customers will only receive a fraction of these overcharges back as refunds – $312 million – and future rates cannot be lowered by more than $50 million, despite the SCC’s calculation that customers are due for a $212 million rate cut.
“Dominion Energy’s manipulation of regulation in its favor causes real financial pain for Virginians,” said Laura Gonzalez, Energy and Regulatory Policy Lead at Clean Virginia. “Our current energy system prioritizes excessive corporate profit over fairly priced clean energy, and Virginians deserve better. Regulators and lawmakers must do everything possible to end this legalized theft by powerful utility monopolies in Virginia.”
The SCC response follows testimony from multiple stakeholders, including the Office of the Attorney General, the U.S. Navy, Walmart, the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, and low-income organizations, that voiced unified opposition to Dominion’s request for a higher profit level, which could cause billions in additional charges to Virginian customers.
Key takeaways from rate case testimony:
– Overcharges: Dominion overcharged customers by $1.1 billion since 2017, according to SCC staff.
– Customer refunds: The Office of the Attorney General and regulators both recommend customer refunds of at least $312 million. Although the recommended amount represents a fraction of the total amount Dominion overcharged customers, customers would receive no refunds if not for a consumer protection law (HB 528) passed by Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudon), which restored oversight of Dominion’s cost-recovery timeline to regulators.
– Rate decrease: The Office of the Attorney General and SCC staff recommend a base rate decrease of $50 million. The SCC emphasized that the rate decrease would be $212 million if not for a Dominion-backed law that caps the maximum decrease at only $50 million.
In response to a request by nearly 20 Virginia lawmakers to analyze what customer refunds would be if the General Assembly had passed legislation removing a customer refund cap, SCC staff calculated that Dominion would owe customers $830.9 million in refunds.
Dominion will file rebuttal testimony next month and will respond to the recommendations of the respondents and SCC Staff. The SCC will issue a final ruling on the rate case early next year after several months of testimony and public hearings.