Author Archives: Steve Haner

Dominion Seeks To Add Carbon Tax In Fuel Factor

Dominion Energy Virginia is taking advantage of its annual, and usually boring, fuel cost review to move the cost of any future carbon tax or emissions allowances out of its fixed base rates and into its variable fuel charge. If the State Corporation Commission agrees it could either lower or raise your bill someday but place your bets on the latter.

The case (here) has also drawn testimony that Dominion has so much natural gas capacity under contract in existing pipelines that it is selling the excess capacity to others – about 25 percent of it, in the case of the Transco pipeline. It needs no more capacity, according to a witness hired by environmental groups.

UPDATE:  Through a Twitter response I’m told that Dominion has notified other parties it will withdraw the request to place any future CO2 costs into the fuel charge,  and the document I missed has been flagged.  So the “is” in the lede paragraph is now a “was.”  I’ll leave the story up because it remains something to watch. 

The utility is allowed a dollar-for-dollar recovery of its fuel costs, with no added profit. Every year it makes a forward estimate of what it will spend on coal, natural gas, uranium fuel, purchased power and related inputs (including contracts for transportation). That amount is then adjusted up and down based on the results from the prior year. The result is costing you 2.7 cents per kWh this year and a projected 2.42 cents per kWh next year.

Continue reading

Comrades: Check Out Virginia’s Planned Economy!

There are portions of the recent state audit report on economic incentives that would warm the hearts of retired Soviet planned economy apparatchiks, sitting around their dachas dreaming of the good old days.  Case in point:  The analysis concluding Virginia’s use of a single sales factor method to tax manufacturers is “moderately effective.”

The report in question is from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, and it previously generated mainstream stories about the data center industry and a Bacon’s Rebellion post about grants in the sputtering semi-conductor manufacturing industry.  Only ten of the 127 pages (39 to 49) deal with the use of a single sales factor in determining the state income tax owed by a manufacturer.  Continue reading

JLARC: Semiconductor Grants Have Not Succeeded

Incentives “spending” reviewed in recent JLARC report. Click for larger view.

The recent report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission on economic incentives related to manufacturing (here) goes far beyond a discussion of data centers, and if the General Assembly accepts it as gospel some of the existing incentives might be in jeopardy.

Two programs aimed at environmental goals should be eliminated, the staff (and by its vote the full legislative panel) concluded:  The Green Jobs Creation Tax Credit and the Green Diesel Fuel Producers Tax Credit.  Neither is being used to any extent.  Continue reading

Fix the General Assembly, Then Tackle Energy Bill

It has been over a month since a coalition of unnatural allies announced a proposal to revise Virginia’s electricity regulation system – again – but the idea dropped from view fairly quickly. One of the main and most visible proponents, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has now taken on a very different role in the Trump Administration.

As I wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post (here), the ideas in the document itself need to remain on the shelf until the General Assembly and the rest of the Richmond establishment are less influenced by the various high-dollar players mixing profit and ideology in this effort. There also needs to be a more robust voice speaking only for consumers, a voice that actually gets heard.

Do what we’ve done before and we get what we’ve gotten before – a hit on consumers that enriches the moneyed interests. That happened in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018.   Continue reading

No Great Leap, But a Continuing Tide

The following was written for the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s Jefferson Policy Journal and distributed earlier today.  Some themes repeat an earlier post

Fighting Joe Morrissey

It’s hard to dissect a battle while the smoke is still clearing, but the June 11 Virginia primaries demonstrated again the state’s continued and steady move away from its conservative past. It was not a Great Leap Forward for the progressive elements of the Democratic party, but where they didn’t win, they applied some serious heat.

Case in point, Senate minority leader and ultimate inside player Richard Saslaw of Fairfax, who only survived because the 51 percent of voters who rejected him had two liberal choices and split their votes. Case in point, former and once-disgraced delegate Joe Morrissey, who defeated long-time incumbent Senator Rosalyn Dance for the seat stretching between Richmond and Petersburg. Dance is no conservative but has proven willing to work across the aisle.  Continue reading

Primary Reading: Themes on the Partisan Blogs

Hanger

How different will Virginia’s politics and political future be at close of business tomorrow? This time the big shift may come in tomorrow’s primaries rather than with the November general election that actually chooses 140 General Assembly members.

A lead weekend story on a major conservative political blog, The Bull Elephant, was an attack on incumbent State Senator Emmett Hanger (here). It was only a temporary interruption in its otherwise microscopic coverage of the circular Republican firing squad still underway in the 97th House District, where incumbent Chris Peace (always wrong on Bull Elephant) claims victory in a firehouse primary and challenger Scott Wyatt (always right on Bull Elephant) does the same based on a convention.   Continue reading

Dispatches. 75 Years Ago Tonight, Now, It Was On.

American Cemetery, Coleville-sur-Mer.  Personal photos from a 2017 visit.

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (AP) — Allied troops landed on the Normandy coast of France in tremendous strength by cloudy daylight today and stormed several miles inland with tanks and infantry in the grand assault which Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”

German broadcasts said the Allies penetrated several kilometers between Caen and Isigny, which are 35 miles apart and respectively nine and two miles from the sea.

Prime Minister Churchill told the House of Commons part of the record-shattering number of parachute and glider troops were fighting in Caen, and had seized a number of important bridges in the invasion area.   Continue reading

More (But Not All) Cost Projections Filed About Ratepayer Bill Transformation Act

Source: SCC Staff summary. Click for larger view.

With some of its closest legislative allies facing primary challenges next week, much of what Dominion Energy Virginia filed Friday in response to questions about the consumer cost of its future plans is redacted.  The story in Tuesday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch (here) could only cover that portion of the data not kept secret.

Three of the four documents filed by Dominion are about its motion requesting protected status for the information, and the fourth (here) includes numerous blacked out portions, which we will not see unless the SCC rejects those motions.  Continue reading

Rider E Case Shows Many Flaws With This Process

Key operating data on some Dominion Virginia coal plants, important to the Rider E case but hidden from us. Source: Office of Attorney General testimony.  Click for larger view. 

Dominion Energy Virginia’s pending application for a new charge on electric bills for coal ash remediation is both a fairly routine request and an illustration of what is deeply wrong with Virginia’s electricity regulation.

When the major investor-owned utilities negotiated a return to regulation in 2007, the ability to create and collect these stand-alone add-on charges (“rate adjustment clauses”) was one of their demands.  It was the other major Virginia utility, Appalachian Power Company, that was most concerned about the ability to collect the cost of environmental compliance and it has had a rider on its bills for that purpose for some time.  Continue reading

SCC Again Denies Escape from Dominion Monopoly

SCC: We’re All In This Together

The State Corporation Commission has denied another request from a major Virginia retailer for permission to escape from Dominion Energy Virginia’s monopoly electricity service.   The score for such petitions is now one approval, two denials, and the message is clear to all the other petitioners:  Go fight it out at the General Assembly.

The petition denied today was from Costco, seeking to aggregate 27 of its stores into a single electricity account that met the 5-megawatt demand trigger which allows large customers to seek a competitive supplier.  The final order is here.

Continue reading

Long-Term Care: A Great Bet If Made Long Ago

It is just like your econ professor told you – insurance is nothing but a bet.  It is a bet you often don’t want to win, but in one field you had a great chance of winning simply by hanging around and continuing to breathe.  That field is (or at least was) long-term care coverage.

Two top executives from major insurers told the State Corporation Commission last week just how badly their companies calculated the risk on long-term care decades ago.  They were seeking to explain the major premium increases their companies are seeking here in Virginia and all around the country in a proceeding previewed (here) in March on Bacon’s RebellionContinue reading

Are PBMs Killing Pharmacies, Hiking Medicaid?

Stoney Creek Pharmacy, Nellysford, VA

A form letter mailed this month announced the death of another local independent pharmacy, this one in the bustling community of Nellysford.  Residents of Nelson County’s Rockfish Valley, including those in the large Wintergreen community, will join plenty of other rural areas in the U.S. without a pharmacy close by.

“Very few independent pharmacies show a profit now unless they sell CBD oil, still unproven, do compounding or find other niche markets that small populations…cannot support,” wrote pharmacist Bob Ladd, who first owned the business in 1988, got out and then bought it back in 2017 in a last ditch effort to make it viable.  A new Dollar General store nearby was a major blow to his non-prescription sales, he added.  Continue reading

True Conservatism In Eight Simple Questions

Answer eight simple questions correctly and you, too, could be a true Virginia conservative, joining the ideological movement which continues to challenge chances for Republican success in the Commonwealth.  Several high-profile candidates in next month’s contested GOP primaries have done so, earning good marks from a group calling itself Virginia Constitutional Conservatives.

Two out of eight involve enmity toward President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and its expansion of Medicaid eligibility.  One Obamacare question revisits the question which started the American Civil War and Virginia’s Massive Resistance – the concept of State Nullification.  The group is also offended by the idea you need a license to conceal your handgun of choice.  Continue reading

Meet GOP Carbon Tax Advocate Bob Inglis

The Hon. Robert Inglis

There is a hotbed of carbon tax advocacy at George Mason University, led by a former GOP congressman sent packing by South Carolina voters because he’s ready to tax them into loving solar and wind.  Continue reading

Update: Aggregation Petition Moves to Full SCC

If our electric bill rises a nickel, and our grocery bill drops a nickel, do we care?

The debate over retail aggregation and choice for electricity underway at the State Corporation Commission is moving to another decision point, with a hearing examiner’s ruling May 21 on one of the many petitions.  Continue reading