This morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch brings the news that Dominion Energy Virginia will not seek to count lost revenue as one of the cost elements in the energy efficiency program it was ordered to undertake by the 2018 Ratepayer Bill Transformation Act. This follows an earlier story, also by the Associated Press, that Governor Ralph Northam has written the company to insist on that position.
Missing from both stories is a key fact: Dominion won’t spend a dime. It is all your money. When the 2018 General Assembly mandated $870 million of spending on energy efficiency and demand response programs, it was the same as a near-billion dollar tax increase. One of many in the bill. Now the $870 million customer cost will get larger.
The issue is only before the State Corporation Commission at the current time because Dominion is seeking permission to increase your electric bill to start paying for this legislative mandate. That case is ongoing, and I planned a future story once I had access to a hearing transcript. That will follow soon, but I sense a teaching moment.
The General Assembly’s 2018 language stated that the $870 million over ten years could include an operating margin for the company, plus its administrative costs. The various programs themselves are usually conducted by outside contractors, with their own operating costs and profit margins layered on. Then your money is used to pay Dominion customers cash incentives to participate. Actual benefits received by customers? Highly debatable.
But another part of Virginia’s utility-written utility law grants Dominion payment for lost revenue if it can verify the program reduced sales. It can be paid for the electricity it doesn’t sell, and it baked that into its first set of cost recovery requests. That was the argument in front of the SCC – would the $870 million include lost revenue or would the lost revenue payments, if granted, be in addition to the $870 million.
The environmental advocates behind this demanded you pay the lost revenue on top of the $870 million, the Governor took up the cry, and now Brer’ Rabbit finds himself in the brier patch. Nobody is arguing it is unfair to make us pay that at all. If you think any Dominion stockholder feels like this was a defeat, think again. At some point that lost revenue will be paid. By us. And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.There are currently no comments highlighted.