|Clean Virginia: Passage of major energy reform bills reflects a new era in Virginia politics
Bipartisan pro-consumer coalition restores proper oversight to monopoly utilities
RICHMOND, VA — The 2023 General Assembly session marks substantial progress towards a fairer and more affordable energy system in Virginia. The unanimous passage of the Affordable Energy Act (SB1321/HB1604) restores critical oversight powers to the State Corporation Commission (SCC), enabling the agency to set fair electric rates and protect Virginians from monopoly utility overcharges. Alongside this bill, a diverse coalition of legislators, businesses and ratepayer advocates worked with the Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin to overhaul utility-sponsored legislation (SB1265/HB1770), negotiating a major win for consumers.
“The passage of the Affordable Energy Act and the Governor’s leadership on rate reform legislation represents a watershed moment for Virginia,” said Michael Bills, Clean Virginia’s Board Chair and Founder. “For the first time, a bipartisan coalition of legislators and the Governor have successfully stood up against the legalized corruption of our monopoly utilities, putting an end to decades of profiteering at the expense of Virginia families and businesses.”
“For far too long, Dominion Energy has wielded its political influence and contributions to write the rules of its own regulation. This year’s legislative session has shown definitively that this era of self-regulation has come to an end,” added Brennan Gilmore, Clean Virginia’s Executive Director.
Legislators from both parties worked to shift power from electric utility monopolies to state regulators and Virginia energy customers by:
- Passing the bipartisan Affordable Energy Act, a major piece of energy reform legislation, Senate Bill 1321 (Senators McClellan and Deeds) and House Bill 1604 (Delegates Ware, Sullivan, and Hudson). Since 2009, Dominion Energy has overcharged Virginians by nearly $2 billion. With the passage of this bill, the State Corporation Commission can prevent future customer overcharges by lowering electric rates when deemed appropriate.
- Blocking another attempt from Dominion Energy to bypass regulatory oversight and raise its profits by billions of dollars. In its original form, Senate Bill 1265 (Senator Saslaw) and House Bill 1770 (Delegate Kilgore) would have increased costs by nearly $1.2 billion in the next five years and at least $4 billion by 2040, with disastrous consequences for Virginia families and small businesses already facing a rapidly rising cost of living. Negotiations led by Governor Youngkin with the input of numerous pro-consumer stakeholders ensured the final version of the bill will set Virginia on a path to a more balanced regulatory environment, by empowering the State Corporation Commission (SCC) and eliminating utility-friendly code provisions Dominion has used to unfairly increase its profits at the expense of customers.
“The progress made this legislative session will help Virginia families and small businesses,” stated Gilmore. “Each year more legislators join the movement to end undue utility influence in the legislature, refusing contributions from Dominion Energy and insisting that public interest, and not utility profit, be the driving force behind Virginia’s energy policy. We look forward to continuing to work to ensure the clean energy transition is affordable and equitable for every Virginian.”
Clean Virginia is a 501(c)4 independent advocacy organization with an associated Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund. Clean Virginia works to fight corruption in Virginia politics in order to promote clean energy, a robust, competitive economy, and community control over our energy policy. We are motivated by the core belief that our democracy should serve everyday Virginians over special interests.