Deregulation of Virginia’s electric utilities has been a failure – almost everyone agrees on that.
What to do about it ought to be the subject of a broad and far-reaching public policy debate.
Instead, Virginia’s leading utility, which wrote its own ticket for deregulation back in 1999, is now hurrying to write itself a blank check for “re-regulation.” Dominion Power’s move to end deregulation on its own terms, without hearings or debate, is backed by the usual suspects in the General Assembly.
Given the concerns of energy experts, and the knowledge that Virginia’s coal production has declined by more than 40% over the past decade despite record coal prices, a realistic policy to protect Virginia’s electricity consumers should aim to reduce the Commonwealth’s disproportionate dependence on coal for electricity.
Instead, Dominion and allies in the Senate are peddling the false promise of reducing costs through regulation in order to accomplish precisely the opposite and pave the way for quickly building new coal-fired power plants.
Re-regulation is a golden opportunity to set the Commonwealth’s energy future onto a more strategic and sustainable path. But in rushing a vote on a confusing bill written by and for the company being regulated, that opportunity will be wasted.