Front Porch Blog

House passes re-regulation Dominion-backed bill delayed in Senate for possible changes

The House of Delegates yesterday gave final
approval, 82-16, to a bill that
would end the state’s experiment with electric

However, the sponsor of the House-passed bill, Sen.
Tho- mas K. Norment Jr.,
R-James City, asked the Senate yesterday to delay
its final vote on an
identical House bill. Afterward,Norment indicated
that he was looking at a
couple of potential changes in the measure.

Dominion Virginia Power, which provides electricity
to 80 percent of
Virginians, originated the re-regulation proposal.
Deregulation began with
passage of a 1999 law.

The bill has been amended to answer concerns of
consumer groups and
environmentalists. Those groups said that the
measure was weighted too
heavily in favor of utilities and their profits and
toward encouraging new
power plants rather than energy conservation.

The legislation would create what Dominion describes
as a hybrid form of
regulation. State regulators would set the level of
profit that utilities
are allowed by looking at the average earnings of a
peer group of utilities
in the U.S. Southeast.

The measure also would allow utilities to earn extra
profit for building
power plants and for bringing wind, solar and hydro
power into their
generation mix.

This summer, when Dominion gets its first
opportunity in more than three
years to pass along increased power-plant fuel
costs, the measure would
limit residential rate increases to 4 percent.

Critics, however, say the bill still provides more
benefits to utilities
than consumers. Supporters, on the other hand, say
the legislation is needed
to encourage construction of power plants to meet
Virginia’s needs.

During the past decade, Do- minion has been one of
the largest donors to
General Assembly campaigns and has offered gifts to
lawmakers, including
hunting trips and tickets to Redskins games.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that 11
lawmakers have reported
ownership of at least $10,000 worth of Dominion
stock. Delegates who own
stock and voted for the bill yesterday, according to
The AP, are: Watkins M.
Abbitt Jr., I-Appomattox; John S. Reid, R-Henrico;
Leo C. Wardrup Jr.,
R-Virginia Beach; Katherine B. Waddell, I-Richmond;
and Christopher K.
Peace, R-Hanover. Edward T. Scott, R-Madison, owns
stock but voted against
the bill.

Norment, the legislation’s Senate sponsor, owns at
least $50,000 worth of
Dominion stock.






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