Front Porch Blog

Reforming Virginia’s energy system continues

Del. Ware (l) and Del. Keam introduce the their joint bipartisan bill on Jan. 7, 2020, to end the electric monopoly system in Virginia. Photo by Piedmont Environmental Council.

Virginia legislators have taken a critical step towards a future powered by a competitive energy marketplace, 21st-century innovation, and strengthened safeguards for low-income communities.

Late last week, a House of Delegates subcommittee voted to keep the proposed Virginia Energy Reform Act “on the table” to discuss next year, proving they are finally ready to consider a post-monopoly Virginia.

Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Del. Mark Keam and Del. Lee Ware, lawmakers will be preparing for a meaningful discussion about designing an energy system on customers’ terms, not Dominion Energy’s — what once seemed an impenetrable barrier.

This visionary and transformative bill would dramatically reshape Virginia’s energy market. Among other things, the Virginia Energy Reform Act (HB 1677) would:

  • Establish a well-designed, competitive market for electricity retailers to give families and businesses a choice.
  • Require monopoly electric utilities to exit the retail services and generation businesses and be limited to just owning and maintaining the distribution system.
  • Establish a nonprofit independent entity that has no financial stake in electricity market outcomes to coordinate operation of the distribution system.
  • Remove existing interconnection and financing barriers to customer-owned energy resources.
  • Build in additional consumer protections and education to ensure smart energy choices.

Appalachian Voices is a founding organizational member of the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition (VERC), which supports this bill. Since launching in May 2019, the coalition has gained hundreds of new supporters and talked to dozens of stakeholders about the benefits of ending the current system of electricity monopolies in the commonwealth.

We now have a year to strengthen this movement for system-wide energy reform in Virginia, and we need your help. Sign up for breaking updates, events and news from VERC — or even sign the petition — and invite your friends and colleagues to do the same.

And be sure to like VERC’s Facebook page, and follow the Twitter conversation at #vaenergyreform.

When the commonwealth embraces a truly competitive energy market that provides protections for the most economically vulnerable populations, Virginia will be leading the way towards a 21st-century future powered by lower energy rates, job growth and innovation.

Members of the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition

Appalachian Voices | Clean Virginia | Earth Stewardship Alliance | FreedomWorks | Piedmont Environmental Council | R Street Institute | Reason Foundation | Virginia Institute for Public Policy | Virginia Poverty Law Center

About Cat McCue

Although not native to the region, Cat feels deeply connected to the mountains, rivers, backroads and small towns of Appalachia she has come to know over the years. She is Appalachian Voices' Senior Communications and Public Engagement Strategist.


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