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.
My list of moneyed interests includes renewable energy manufacturers and developers and energy efficiency contractors. The people making natural gas turbines and wind turbines have the same basic motives, really, honorable as they are. I would love to better understand the economics of this “energy efficiency” business and may take the time to explore, but cash obviously flows.
Here is the document issued by the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition. It’s a political blueprint as much as an energy bill.
Dominion Energy Virginia was a regular topic of discussion in some but not many of the recent election primaries, but usually the issue boiled down to either taking or not taking campaign donations from regulated utilities. As long as the parties and caucuses do, individual candidates preening on that point are obnoxious hypocrites.
The problem is taking large amounts of money from any source, and that includes large amounts of “Anti-Dominion” funding from sources such as Clean Virginia or the major environmental sources (not so active so far as they were in 2017, not yet.)
But the even bigger problem is the refusal of so many in the legislature to listen to anybody but the lobbyists for the moneyed interests when the bills are in committee or on the floor. There have been a series of key turning points in recent years, but a huge one came when the House voted on retiring Delegate David Toscano’s floor amendment to take the double dip out of the 2018 Grid (a.k.a. Ratepayer Bill) Transformation Act.
The State Corporation Commission said it was a double dip, the Attorney General’s staff said it was a double dip, frankly every regulatory lawyer not on a utility payroll said it was a double dip, and yet Toscano’s amendment had to overcome 41 nays (here). Those were 41 people who believed the paid lobbyists were telling the truth, and the SCC and Attorney General and virtually everybody else was wrong. Or they blindly followed someone else who thought the SCC was wrong and Dominion more honest.
That’s when it was clear lobbying was a waste of time and client money, and it was time to go behind the General Assembly and straight to voters with information about these issues and the legislature’s failures.
Until a strong majority of the General Assembly is willing to listen to the SCC and others who really understand this complicated statute, until there is another independent voice for consumers (sorry, the Attorney General takes the money, too) that legislators will respect, then it would be hugely dangerous to reopen Title 56 for more surgery. First do no harm.There are currently no comments highlighted.