Virginia Chooses Customers Over Utilities

The Virginia legislature passed two bills this year which will restore regulators’ authority to block power utilities from making their customers pay for unneeded plants and pipelines.

One bill will shift the risk of new pipeline construction from ratepayers to utility investors. Under the law, when a public utility asks to charge its customers for the costs of a new natural gas pipeline or other related infrastructure, the company has the burden of showing the investment was necessary to maintain reliable service by providing needed new supplies. Opponents of expanded pipelines believe the state’s utilities will be unable to provide that evidence, and that the risk of having to stick their investors with those costs will lead to less environmental damage from unneeded natural gas development.

The other bill will allow the state’s utilities regulation board (the State Corporations Commission) to prohibit a utility to recover from ratepayers the money spent on a power plant which is subsequently cancelled before completion and use. 

Combined, those initiatives sent “a strong message that Dominion Energy will no longer be able to use the General Assembly as a rubber stamp for its profit-padding legislation,” said Brennan Gilmore, executive director of Clean Virginia. “New lawmakers have joined seasoned members of both chambers to build a firewall of support for consumer protection, good governance and distributed clean energy.”

North Carolina legislators should follow our northern neighbor’s lead on this important progress for clean energy and consumer protection. Tell your senator and representative to support the Clean Energy for All bill!

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