Site map for the first phase and cable connection route for the proposed Kitty Hawk Wind project.
by Steve Haner
The political leaders of the City of Virginia Beach have informed an offshore wind developer that they oppose its plan to bring power cables ashore at Sandbridge Beach. No formal vote was taken on the application, however, according to media reports.
The story appeared in The Virginian-Pilot and on local television station WAVY around Thanksgiving. When Bacon’s Rebellion last visited this matter, Virginia Beach City Council had conducted a May public hearing at which most speakers strongly opposed the power cable location.
European energy developer Avangrid controls the wind lease space off the shores of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, but the most efficient plan to bring power ashore brought the cables north to Sandbridge Beach in Virginia. The exact landing location proposed was under a city-owned parking lot that serves the commercial section of the popular beach neighborhood.
From there the cables would have run along mostly public highway right of way to connect with the main electrical grid. A similar plan to bring cables ashore from Dominion Energy Virginia’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project involves the state’s military reservation (no longer named for Confederate artillerist William Pendleton) so is not near commercial or residential properties. No similar local opposition has developed to CVOW’s cables.
The city leaders reportedly informed the developer of their stance in a private meeting and then later announced it. The company is free to continue to try to change minds, since no formal vote was taken, and also free to look for another route to the grid. Continue reading
By Steve Haner
The long struggle to prevent Dominion Energy Virginia from earning excess profits in its base rates year after year appears to be over and consumers finally won. That is the main takeaway as the first general review of its base rates since the 2023 regulatory re-write is moving toward a quick settlement.
The complicated changes in the regulatory structure included wins and losses for consumers, but the impact on this first rate case review is proving to be net positive for the 2.6 million customer accounts. Most of the various parties who have been dissecting the company’s accounts and forward projections are now willing to end the case with a settlement.
Another reason the case is proving less contentious than previous reviews is that many important decisions – such as the company’s allowed profit margin for the future – were predetermined by the legislation. The first ever politically dictated profit level will be 9.7% for the next two years, just as underlying interest rates elsewhere in the economy collapse.
A draft stipulation was filed by the parties November 14 with the State Corporation Commission. It leaves the utility’s base rates intact. It also includes a $15 million rebate to consumers, perhaps $2 for a residential customer, which caused the Richmond Times-Dispatch to announce the deal with a banner front page headline. Don’t spend it all in one place. In fact, expect to spend it immediately on other parts of your Dominion bill, something the newspaper (again) failed to report.
The base rates are the largest element of Dominion’s bill but are only part of it. The company continues to pay for many of its newer generation projects and non-generation programs with rate adjustment clauses that are separate from base rates, so the share customers spend on base rates is shrinking.
Stable base rates for 2024 or 2025 do not mean the total bill will not rise. You also have to also watch those rate adjustment clauses. As reported here just the other day, the rate adjustment clause dedicated to paying for Dominion’s offshore wind project may almost double next summer, another $4 per month for homeowners. The so-called Rider OSW will likely rise again in 2025. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
The Virginia State Corporation Commission has approved Dominion Energy Virginia’s request to stretch out the back payments on $1.3 billion in old fuel bills from previous years over more than seven years. While the ultimate dollar cost to customers is millions higher because of interest charges, even the SCC news release touted the move as “rate relief.”
The final decision was issued mid-afternoon on November 3, just a few days before the November 7 elections will choose all 140 General Assembly members. Dominion will claim the idea to spread out the payments came from the legislature, but the 2023 bill that made it possible was written by the utility and put forward by friendly legislators.
Dominion has a stable of friendly legislators in Virginia, well rewarded for their efforts. It has never rewarded them better than in this most recent election cycle. Some of the same friendly legislators filed remarks in this case supportive of this financing scheme.
From the SCC news release:
Dominion estimated that, as approved, customers would pay approximately $3.10 per month over 7.25 years rather than up to $14.72 per month under the traditional methodology. Final terms will not be known until the bonds are marketed and priced and are subject to change.
by Jon Baliles
There has been a lot of boasting from the casino advocates about their partnership with Kentucky-based Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI). The rebranded Richmond Grand casino developer Urban One is a radio and TV conglomerate that has said they are partnering with CDI because of their huge capitalization and experience with casinos. But let’s take a look at Churchill Downs’ casino portfolio, because it’s not what the casino advocates have been claiming.
CDI is obviously world-famous for the running of the Kentucky Derby horse race, and they have expanded their portfolio to include more and more gaming facilities in recent years. CDI bought out Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (PPE) in a $2.75 billion deal in 2022, and PPE had been Urban One’s original partner in the first, failed casino referendum. The deal included the Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent, as well as six Rosie’s Gaming Emporium historical horse racing facilities across Virginia plus two smaller casinos, one in Iowa and one in New York. But among the eleven casinos in the CDI portfolio, none are anywhere near the scale what they promise for Richmond. And none of those eleven casinos resemble anything grand — except for the indisputable fact that the house always wins, even if the resort looks more like an airport.
The Richmond Grand advocates claim their casino will have a 250-room hotel, an entertainment/concert venue with 3,000 seats, a TV and film production soundstage, and 15 restaurants and “dining options.” But if you look at their other casinos, they are all small casinos in small markets and are not even close to the “resort” they claim to be bringing to Richmond. Continue reading
American Institute of CPA’s map of states with a pass through entity tax rule as of this past July. Many of those that haven’t have no state income tax anyway. Click for larger view.
By Steve Haner
When the General Assembly was briefed on the state’s financial status last week, the $412 million in unexpected revenue growth was dismissed as potentially misleading because of some new quirk in Virginia tax law called the Pass Through Entity Tax or PTET. PTET keeps coming up in these discussions.
Approval of the Pass Through Entity Tax in 2022, with some tweaks to the rules in 2023, has indeed scrambled the state’s financial forecasting. Virginia is one of 36 states now offering this tax strategy. The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee got a briefing on it October 17. Before the boring nuts and bolts, here are the headlines.
First, PTET is popularly seen as a way to undermine the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s limitation on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). If you seek itemized deductions on a federal tax return, the limit for state and local taxes paid is $10,000. Now that Virginia and so many other states have adopted PTET, the big loser is the federal government. PTET adds to the federal deficit. Continue reading
by Jon Baliles
Republished with permission from RVA 5×5.
They say the past is prologue and that if you don’t learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it, among other famous quotes that have stood the test of time. And they have a factor of truth and lesson in them. And so is the case with next month’s casino referendum, the second one we have had the chance to vote for because the first one was ignored by city leaders in 2021.
This Deep Dive is a look back at the last time Richmond faced two referendums on one topic in short succession — the people were asked to vote to register their voice and they said no to the city leaders, planners, and business leaders. Both times, the people’s voice was ignored, and both times the city leaders overruled their vote and their voice and pursued their plans irrespective of the results — with disastrous and long-lasting consequences.
This may be starting to sound familiar. Continue reading
by Jon Baliles
Two weeks ago, you probably heard the news about the vote promise scam from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and the casino advocates that they would put 2/3 of the annual casino tax revenue towards early childcare for kids in Southside. This week, you might have heard about the press conference that the unions held that said they reached an agreement with the casino advocates that would promise hundreds or thousands of new union jobs and “paths into the middle class” for young people and families.
While it is unconfirmed at this time, there are several rumors going around that in another few weeks that casino advocates will hold a press conference promising eternal life for seniors if they vote for the casino referendum on November 7th.
Who knows, at this rate of promising anything and everything for your vote, the casino advocates might have Oprah in RVA by late October offering new cars for any remaining voters as long as they have a mail-in ballot marked Yes. So, don’t vote too early!
The second casino referendum has become a leveraged buyout of the voters and there is no dollar amount or offer that won’t be matched by the casino advocates to get the referendum across the line the second time around. They have already raised and committed $8 million to buy your vote, and that total will almost certainly go up.
But alas, these and the other yet-to-be-revealed voting scams are just a way to hoodwink voters into believing that the casino will exist to do more good for the community than it will for the owners and investors. Which is clearly not the case. It isn’t the case in Bristol, or Danville, or Portsmouth or any casino in the country. Continue reading
by David Wojick
Dominion Energy, Virginia’s big electric utility, is telling the state it does not foresee complying with the 2045 net zero power target in the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). The preferred option in Dominion’s latest Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) retires no fossil-fueled power generators, other than the few old ones that are already in the process of retirement. In fact, it adds a lot more fossil juice.
Up front in the IRP, Dominion puts it this way: “Due to an increasing load forecast, and the need for dispatchable generation, the Alternative Plans show additional natural-gas-fired resources and preserve existing carbon-emitting units beyond statutory retirement deadlines established in the VCEA. The law explicitly authorizes the Company to petition the SCC for relief from these requirements on the basis that the unit retirements would threaten the reliability or security of electric service to customers.”
So, in effect, this is a notice to Virginia’s utility regulator, the State Corporation Commission (SCC), that Dominion is prepared to petition for permission to not comply with the net zero power generation mandate in the VCEA. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
Does the name Morgan Bettinger sound familiar?
She’s just another victim of fake hate at the University of Virginia. A girl who was wrongly labeled a racist and who suffered as a result of a relentless, mean-spirited campaign to drive her out of school.
Meanwhile, the person who accused her of racism, Zyahna Bryant, went from BLM activist to the spokeswoman for the Fat Liberation Movement who just landed a partnership with Dove. Continue reading
by Derrick A. Max
(This column was first published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy)
Fear of commitment is a common theme in Hollywood — where romantic comedies are replete with characters that sidestep long-term commitment primarily out of fear that someone better may come along. Think of Runaway Bride, where Maggie, played by Julia Roberts, keeps running away from her betrothed at the altar out of such fear.
The budget amendments passed last Wednesday with bipartisan support and praise from Governor Youngkin are replete with commitment issues. The approved tax cuts and new spending were written to have very little impact beyond the current budget cycle. Like Maggie, both Governor Youngkin and the Senate Democrats are clearly standing at the budget altar hoping for better options after the November elections. Continue reading
The SCC’s breakdown of Dominion’s energy price for a home using 1,000 kwh. Click for clear view.
by Steve Haner
When the Virginia General Assembly passed a complicated electricity regulation change a few months ago, the Richmond Times-Dispatch parroted as fact this Dominion Energy Virginia claim in a front-page paragraph:
The compromise on electric bills — in legislation that passed nearly unanimously — would bring an immediate $6 to $7 cut in a benchmark 1,000 kilowatt-hour monthly bill, which now stands at $137.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R)
By Steve Haner
First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) and the legislators of both parties who have given him at least some of the tax reforms he asked for need to stop being shy and take a real victory lap. He has been in office less than two years and has diverted $5 billion from tax coffers back to Virginia’s citizens so far, with more to come in 2024 and beyond.
Most of that was approved by the 2022 General Assembly and is now in effect for a second full tax year, but the 2023 General Assembly just sweetened the pot. The long-delayed budget compromise approved September 6 added more than $1 billion in single-shot refunds and long-term tax cuts. Continue reading
by Shaun Kenney
New polling data from Founders Insight reveal that 24% of Virginians are putting inflation as their top concern heading into the November elections, with abortion coming in at 15% and split between Democrats and Republicans.
To make matters worse for Virginia Democrats, a summer spent pushing abortion rights has backfired spectacularly, as the Planned Parenthood life of 40 weeks (and beyond) is wildly unpopular with most Virginians.
Making matters worse, Planned Parenthood’s so-called “reproductive rights” state constitutional amendments such as the one in Ohio this year go even further, allowing not only for abortion up to the moment of birth, but even permitting gender reassignment surgeries alongside a repeal of parental notification and parental consent.
Virginia Democrats are not hiding the football on their abortion-up-to-birth ambitions, as they continue to bring the bill before the Virginia General Assembly whenever they get the chance. Continue reading
by Jon Balilies
The City of Richmond has been discussing altering and revising regulations about short-term rentals (STR’s) and the next action will take place at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday afternoon (September 5th). It is an important decision because it is entirely possible the decision by the Commission and ultimately City Council could have a tremendous impact on housing availability, high sale prices, and neighborhood character.
For the last few years, the city has done a good job of holding public meetings and soliciting feedback through various methods and gathering information about short-term rental properties (like AirBnB and VRBO, etc.). Until 2020, they were technically illegal and unregulated but they did exist (they rose to a more visible status when the UCI 2015 Bike Championships came to town).
In gathering information and developing the first ordinance, the city said it wanted to find the right balance to allow property owners to take part, but also make sure it was done right to protect neighborhoods. Some other cities dove in head-first with few, if any, regulations, which led to adverse, if somewhat predictable, effects. Richmond smartly agreed to revisit the ordinance after having some time to evaluate the initial regulations. Currently, in residentially zoned areas, the city requires that owners must claim primary residence at least 185 days (just over half the year) to rent out as a STR. If the property owner has a converted garage, etc., then they may rent that out all year. In commercially- zoned areas, there is no residency requirement being proposed in the new legislation. Continue reading
By Steve Haner
Yes, Virginia, the Democrats are coming for your gasoline and diesel powered cars. The only way to decouple Virginia from the California Air Resources Board’s relentless drive toward electric vehicles only on new car lots is to change the political landscape in Richmond and reverse a 2021 bill.
A Republican candidate for Virginia Senate used the illustration above to challenge his opponent, current Delegate Danica Roem (D-Manassas), now seeking a seat in the less numerous body. The blog Blue Virginia rushed to Roem’s defense. Here is the full link to the article so you can get the link and the tenor of the message all in one. Continue reading