by Steve Haner
Californians were again this week under an electricity “flex alert,” a conservation order required because of its reliance on unreliable solar and wind energy. They often cannot keep up with demand on the hotter days. Is this Virginia’s future? The government is telling Californians:
- Set your thermostat at 78° or higher
- Avoid using major appliances
- Turn off unnecessary lights
- Use fans for cooling
- Unplug unused items.
The return of this power shortfall comes just days before Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall vote, with this growing crisis being cited by some of his opponents. It is also a distant cloud on Virginia’s horizon as early voting begins here next week in the elections for statewide offices and the House of Delegates.
Virginia has rushed to copy California’s climate-fear and rent-seeking driven solar and wind energy scheme.
Of all the ways Virginia’s new Democratic majority has remade the state, the move to unreliable energy sources will have the greatest impact on business and family budgets over coming decades. Once completed the transformation’s costs will likely exceed that of all the various tax increases imposed. Two of the new energy taxes, one a carbon tax and the other to fund a subsidy for low-income electricity users, begin to raise energy prices this month.
The consumer impact (cost and lifestyle) of the various energy transformation measures will be the topic of Thursday’s Virginia Energy Consumer Conference, with another proposed carbon tax – the Transportation and Climate Initiative – the topic of my planned presentation. The various presentations can be streamed live if you pre-register here. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
Virginia has collected its first wave of carbon taxes from the state’s electricity generators, costs which will eventually show up on future bills. The $43.6 million take just about doubles the revenue estimates used when participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was being approved by the Virginia General Assembly last year. Surprise! Continue reading
by Steve Haner
If Bacon’s Rebellion at times has been “Dominion Pravda,” providing a window into that corporate giant’s C suite, our friends at the Virginia Mercury sometimes take the opposite role of “Environmental People’s Daily.”
Its story today is a good example, for what it includes and what it does not. The long, detailed and worthwhile summary of energy and environment issues coming to the 2020 General Assembly has a glaring omission. It makes no reference to the Transportation and Climate Initiative. If anybody could get a straight answer out of the Northam Administration, you’d think it would be Virginia Mercury. The silence is deafening and perhaps significant.
At some point soon somebody has to say something, wouldn’t you think? In others states in the proposed interstate compact, governors are being pinned down, actual TCI bills are pending, legislators are taking positions, coalitions are forming. This will have to happen in Virginia soon if the organizers of TCI want their proposed memorandum of understanding signed by enough states to actually impose the carbon caps and taxes by 2022. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
The Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources will be the sugar daddy for the carbon tax dollars raised from electricity customers, according to pending legislation to fully enroll Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) next year.
House Bill 20, sponsored by Norfolk Democrat Joe Lindsey, is similar (with some changes) to 2019 legislation which died on a partisan vote when Republicans controlled the General Assembly. Now that power has shifted the bill’s chances of passage are excellent. It has several unusual provisions and may hint at how the related Transportation and Climate Initiative will be implemented in Virginia. Continue reading
By Steve Haner
In this politically sensitive moment, they don’t call it “cap and tax” but instead “cap and invest.” Yet, the recently released draft Transportation and Climate Initiative proposal fits a Bacon’s Rebellion prediction in March that next they would be coming to tax your SUV.
Reducing CO2 emissions from electric power plants with a cap and tax scheme is not enough, of course. More of those dread emissions (you and I call it exhaling) come from vehicles, despite rapid improvements in engine efficiency and alternatives to fossil fuel combustion. The Northam Administration has Virginia fully engaged. Legislation to require General Assembly approval for this regional compact was vetoed.
The RGGI states, with New Jersey, which rejoined in June.
by Steve Haner
With an eye on November 5, Virginia’s Republican legislators are expressing their concern for Virginia’s electricity customers and warning that their Democratic competitors will support a new energy carbon tax if they gain the majority. The carbon tax is a key element of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
In media releases and, of course, Tweets, the simple message is “Higher Taxes on Energy. Democrats Say Yes. Republicans Say No.” The key evidence provided is State Corporation Commission staff testimony (here), first made generally available on Bacon’s Rebellion, and a recent summary on the issue I wrote for the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy (here). We took a stand against joining RGGI.
That RGGI white paper has been in process all summer, and it was pure coincidence that it surfaced just as many Democrats were showing their concern for consumers by opposing a higher profit margin for Dominion Energy Virginia. Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia bill breakdown, for 1,000 kWh of residential service. Base rates were recently reduced by the federal tax cuts, and fuel fluctuates, but rate adjustment clauses (RACs) proliferate and grow, with more to come. Source: SCC
by Steve Haner
There is no sign, nine weeks out from the big General Assembly election, that the arcane and obscure field of electricity regulation is going to change any votes or win any elections in Virginia in 2019. There is plenty to debate if anybody wanted to in two recent reports now public at the SCC and linked below.
The State Corporation Commission just issued yet another report that Dominion Energy Virginia is reaping massive excess profits, more than half a billion dollars in 2017 and 2018 combined. There is very little chance that the company’s 2.45 million customer accounts (about two thirds of Virginia customers) will see any refunds or price reductions as a result. Prediction number one: The company keeps it all come the 2021 review and base rates do not change. Continue reading
Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is now fully authorized under a new state regulation, and the deadline to appeal that regulation has now passed with no appeal filed. The text of the regulation is here.
Language inserted by General Assembly Republicans into the current state budget merely puts RGGI membership and its related carbon tax on hold. It did not overturn the regulation, which went into effect June 26. The outcome of the November election will likely determine whether that roadblock remains in place beyond next summer, when the current budget provisions expire. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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
While it would have been a popular step with his political base, and one he was expected to take, Governor Ralph Northam may have been smart to pass on seeking to veto state budget language preventing Virginia membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Continue reading
The State Corporation Commission staff has “shown its work” on an earlier estimate of electricity rate increases resulting from Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, despite a Democratic legislator’s complaint in Sunday’s Washington Post it was not being transparent.
“Even if you agree with the SCC, its analyses should be public information designed to inform the public debate. The SCC, however, has chosen a less transparent route, disadvantaging the public and the legislature from having all the necessary information to determine energy policy in the commonwealth,” Delegate David Toscano of Charlottesville wrote. Continue reading