Front Porch Blog

Your Electric Bill’s About to Soar. So Are Dominion Power’s Profits.

[HUGE thanks to Lowell at RaisingKaine.com. Orginial piece here]

Dominion Virginia Power is about to get a lot richer, you’re about to get a lot poorer, and the environment is about to get a lot dirtier. That is, at least, the analysis of Margaret Edds in today’s Virginian-Pilot, the Virginia Conservation Network, and the Washington Post. All three are questioning the haste with which Virginia’s General Assembly is moving to something called “re-regulation” of Virginia’s power sector.
According to Edds:

…the General Assembly is on the verge of adopting a new plan that returns rate-making to the SCC but ties one hand behind its back.
The re-regulation plan has moved from birth to near-adoption in a breathtakingly short seven weeks. In a quarter-century of assembly-watching, I don’t think I’ve seen a bill of such magnitude sweep through with narrower scrutiny or less understanding.

How is this possible, considering that the legislation in question (SB1416 and HB3068) will have such a large impact on all Virginians? According to Edds, the explanation is simple…and disturbing…

Eighteen registered Dominion lobbyists — including two former Cabinet secretaries, two respected former legislators, the former chief counsel to Gov. Mark Warner and one of the state’s premier Democratic deal makers — are assigned to sell the case. I say with awe, and no shock, that they are really, really good.
The record $3.8 million in gifts and donations Dominion has dropped on lawmakers in the last decade, extensive personal connections and the complexity of the subject — few know enough to argue back — grease phenomenal success.
Wow, $3.8 million. Where has all this money gone? According to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), it’s gone pretty much everywhere – millions to Republicans, millions to Democrats. Frankly, it’s breathtaking. Next time you pay your electric bill, think about what that bill is paying for, because it ain’t just the electricity you used last month.
So what’s the problem with re-regulation, aside from the lack of scrutiny and the potential for huge profits by Dominion (and large rate increases for you)? Here’s the Virginia Conservation Network’s take on the matter:

…SB1416 and HB3068. These bills amount to an industry wish list: they guarantee huge profits to utilities, encourage them to build unnecessary and polluting power plants, and let them gouge Virginia ratepayers. The bills’ supposed renewable energy and conservation measures are no more than window dressing. Our representatives should first and foremost serve the citizens of Virginia, not power- and profit-hungry companies.

Sounds great, huh? What, you don’t think it sounds great? What, you mean you don’t trust Dominion Power to write its own bill on power regulation in Virginia? Geez, and I bet you don’t trust George W. Bush either. Ha.
OK, fine, be difficult about this. Follow the recommendation of the Virginia Conservatioan Network and contact your State Delegate or Senator today. When you do, tell them:

I oppose my rates going up to build power plants that will only make the air dirtier, increase the effects of global warming, and cost consumers billions over the next decade. I support requiring power companies to invest in energy efficiency and conservation programs before being allowed to build more destructive power plants. Programs, such as a systems benefit fund, net metering, and peak-demand management, will lower my electric bill while protecting public health, the environment and our economy.

While you’re at it, you might also want to mention that Virginia should immediately adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard. To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have done so – but NOT Virginia. Gee, I wonder if that $3.8 million in lobbying money that Dominion has plunked down the past few years might help explain this situation. Hmmmmm….

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