Several bills at the General Assembly this session take aim at the electric giant Dominion Energy. Lawmakers say they would protect customers and their wallets and end Dominion’s monopoly in the commonwealth.
One of the bipartisan bills would empower the SCC or State Corporation Commission to examine Dominion’s earnings, set allowed profits levels and direct the energy giant to issue refunds if it overcharges its customers. Republican Delegate Lee Ware of Powhatan is a sponsor of the bill.
“It would simply authorize the State Corporation Commission to do what they should be doing which is to get a good look and give us a straight story as to what the over earnings or overcharges may be,” Ware said.
The measure comes after an SCC report revealed Dominion overcharged customers nearly $380 million dollars just in 2017 and 2018. Since 2015, Dominion accrued a whopping $1.3 billion dollars in excess profits.
The findings drew protest from some demanding their money back. At a rally last year protesters chanted, “What do we want? A refund. When do we want it? Now.”
Harrison Wallace, the Virginia director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network told 8News, “When you go and talk to them, the one thing that they say is they have to choose between their rent and is their energy bills.”
Yet, Dominion says there’s already a lot of oversight in place in when it comes to rates. Plus, they say extra earnings allow the energy company to invest in clean energy like solar power and offshore wind energy as well increase reliability. Dominion Energy spokesman Rayhan Daudani believes customers are getting a good value for their buck.
“They are paying rates that are way below the national average,” Daudani said. “And, I think if you ask people here in Virginia how do you feel about your reliability which is the most important thing when they flip the switch and their lights turn on, our customers tell us they have great reliability.”
Another bill lawmakers say would create a more competitive market and end Dominion’s reign as a monopoly while also giving the customer choice in their power provider is House Bill 206, which was also introduced by Ware.
Dominion says it’s deregulation and it’s a step backwards.
“If you look at what customers pay in states where they have tried this it has really failed,” Daudani told 8News. “They pay on average 40% more than the customers in states that have a regulated format.”
Another piece of legislation would bar candidates from accepting donations from public service corporations like Dominion. 8News is tracking them all.
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