Will Consumers Come First in VCEA Review?

FERC Commissioner Mark Christie of Virginia

By Steve Haner

“If we always keep as our focus what is best for consumers, in getting them reliable power for the least cost, then I think that’s the main guidepost we ought to follow.”

That was Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Mark Christie’s opening quote on a PBS broadcast on energy issues due to air April 9, but the 26- minute program can already be found on the network’s website and Christie distributed it via X today.

I’ve seen only snippets so far, but that mission statement jumped out at me. It has been my guidepost in writing about these issues for years now. Christie continues to use his seat on the key regulatory body as a pulpit for the gospel of grid reliability, bolstered by continuing alarms from Virginia’s regional transmission organization that too much reliable power is set to close.

His concern for price and reliability should be the very tippy-top priority as an insider game begins down at the General Assembly to revisit Virginia’s energy transition mandates. The effort announced in January is now ramping up, despite indications that the 2024 session will soon be in a bitter budget and tax overtime.

Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax

The beginning has not been auspicious. Organizer David Marsden, a Democrat state senator from Fairfax, sent out written instructions this week to a group of stakeholders, intending to set the stage for a very secretive process. Documents sent to scores of folks by blast email tend to leak, and this one did. Read it yourself.

First Brandon Jarvis wrote something about it on his Virginia Scope outlet, and then Blue Virginia picked up on it. Bacon’s Rebellion readers are getting a link to the copy itself. In a bygone era such an open admission that the Assembly intends to exclude the public would be a major media story, and embarrassing. The media is dead.

This is a short post because I hope folks will visit the links, in particular the Christie interview, the Utility Dive report on PJM’s warnings, and the Marsden document itself. The Blue Virginia commentary is also important because it illustrates what “improving” the 2020 statute looks like to the left – faster and deeper abandonments of reliable coal and natural gas generation, exactly the opposite of PJM’s advice.

And review that list of stakeholders that Marsden and other legislators will hear from next week, perhaps behind closed doors. Identify which of them is there because their top priority is to “always keep as our focus what is best for consumers, in getting them reliable power for the least cost.” Most have other goals; goals they also ardently consider paramount.

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42 responses to “Will Consumers Come First in VCEA Review?”

  1. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    I know the “working papers” dodge all too well. The President of UVA – you know – the school founded by Jefferson – and where the BOV and admin profess “unequivocal” support for “free expression” and “free inquiry” – loves to assert “working papers” for everything he does in secret.
    Is there a crime possibility for Conspiracy to Evade FOIA? Do you need any more here? If this is so good, subject to scrutiny, why does it need to be done in the dark? The question answers itself, doesn’t it?
    These people behind green energy are crazy. It is not based on “science.” It is a pagan religion.
    As to UVA, President Ryan’s dodge is to assert that he has established various committees for his “deliberative purpose” and EVERYTHING these committees do is a “working paper” – it is a preposterous extension of what is to be a narrowly construed exemption. (Consider that these committees have met for years and are doing many things at UVA and in the area…but no one can know). Perhaps President Ryan has told the Senator his successful dodge of the law because that is exactly what Senator Marsden is doing.
    It’s an outrage. We are ruled by dishonest, immoral people. Power crazed narcissists.
    I would like reliable power, produced at a reasonable cost. Nuclear should be greatly expanded. Then gas. The windmills and solar farms are ridiculous wastes of money to make empty people fell virtuous. And impose the costs on everybody else.

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      “I would like reliable power, produced at a reasonable cost. Nuclear should be greatly expanded.”

      Mutually exclusive statements…

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        No, not so. Expensive initial. Very cheap long run. And nearly at 100% of potential capacity. Always. Unlike wind and solar – the “fuel” may be free…but it is unreliable, and dangerous to the environment…and too expensive…and not based on science…but makes Lefties feel good, so let’s do it!

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          “…and dangerous to the environment.”


          1. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            It would be nice if you actually knew anything. The windmills kill birds and whales. The windmills and the solar farms require materials that require extensive mining and manufacturing and are real disposal nightmares.
            You’re not a half troll – you’re a full troll.

          2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Building a vacation villa in Chernobyl are you…?

          3. William O'Keefe Avatar
            William O’Keefe

            US nuclear technology is far superior to the Soviet technology at the Chernobyl facility.
            Apples to rotten tomatoes is not an acceptable method of comparison.

          4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Was using the extreme case to make a point that by comparison renewables have far fewer issues with “materials that require extensive mining and manufacturing and…disposal nightmares” than does nuclear. Would you like to make the case that this is not so…?

          5. William O'Keefe Avatar
            William O’Keefe

            Your initial comments speak for themselves. Have you done a life cycle analysis? Mining and disposal is just one part of the system, wouldn’t you agree?

          6. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Absolutely! Those are, however, the issues Walter brought up in his argument that renewables are “dangerous to the environment”. To your point, nuclear also involves refining and the manufacturing of very specialized equipment and infrastructure, for instance.

          7. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            It’s almost as if they don’t understand what occurred at Chernobyl and that we utilize nuclear tech for all our subs and carriers. If their premise is that renewables have made advancement based upon science, how is that not applicable to nuclear. It’s not a rational argument, but you’re not going to get one when that person is claiming their solar capture is “power generation”.

          8. Marty Chapman Avatar
            Marty Chapman

            Walter, there is no point in engaging Eric.

          9. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Do you think he gets paid for his regurgitation of the narrative propaganda?

          10. Marty Chapman Avatar
            Marty Chapman

            I expect he gets an allowance from his Mom

      2. Randy Huffman Avatar
        Randy Huffman

        I found an interesting site, Statista, that shows just in the last three years, the cost of retail electricity has jumped 20%, from 10.59 cents in 2020 to 12.72 cents in 2023. They note:

        Although the production cost of electricity generated from coal, natural gas, and nuclear sources remained relatively stable, the integration of renewable energy sources, investments in smart grid technologies, growing peak demand, power blackouts caused by natural disasters, and the global energy crisis in 2022 continued to trouble the electric utility industry in recent years.


        What I find intriguing is many publications try and cite the high cost of fossil fuels and coal, and renewables coming down, but so far, apparently not so good!

        The link for State to State costs seems to be a bit of a disconnect as almost all the States are higher than this average, but Virginia does fare pretty well.

      3. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Nuclear is real cheap…

  2. Irene Leech Avatar
    Irene Leech

    OK. So you motivated me to send a message to the Senators asking them to include consumers as a stakeholder group. I made a short list of organizations to consider. We’ll see if that makes anything happen. Honestly, looking at their list, I don’t see consumers fitting into their plan.

    This has happened before with the consumer data privacy legislation. Industry collected participants for a zoom that didn’t include consumers but then it was impossible to get our voices truly to the table and none of our issues were ever addressed. That was in COVID but it still stings and gives me little confidence, but you know me, I’ll keep trying.

  3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “His concern for price and reliability should be the very tippy top priority…”

    I will give you reliability (did not the VCEA have language to that effect?). But price should not be at the “very tippy top priority”. I am good with softening price impacts on the needy and some elderly but just because an energy policy costs more is not a valid reason to table it.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    the truth: ” 3. A Phase I or Phase II Utility may petition the Commission for relief from the requirements of this subsection on the basis that the requirement would threaten the reliability or security of electric service to customers. The Commission shall consider in-state and regional transmission entity resources and shall evaluate the reliability of each proposed retirement on a case-by-case basis in ruling upon any such petition.”


    more boogeyman politics……….

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yep, big honking bogeyman coming at us like a freight train. But why would PJM know anything, right? Wind and solar are all we need, right Larry?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        like I said… boogeyman politics –

        We DO listen to PJM.

        As I’ve said many times. we cannot do this with wind/solar alone – we will continue to need gas for the foreseeable future.

        HOWEVER, the more wind/solar we have, the LESS gas we will have to burn and that’s not an unreasonable approach at all.

        I also support Nukes but I see conflict with the anti-renewable crowd saying they support nukes – when nukes at this point will cost much more than others fuels.

        So do you anti-renewable types actually support Nukes even if they cost more?

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          “HOWEVER, the more wind/solar we have, the LESS gas we will have to burn and that’s not an unreasonable approach at all”

          And the lower the demand on natural gas, the lower the price of that fuel. Win-win all the way around.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            but wind and solar are evil leftists ideas… that cannot be tolerated…

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        simple truth – the law does allow for reliability to be at issue – not the claims
        of the anti-folks.

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          Another falsehood by the right is that renewables are unreliable. The fact of the matter is they are cyclical, not unreliable. They are very reliable. Being simple to operate with less complicated equipment and fewer energy transmission issues, renewables are far more reliable than fossil fuel and nuclear generation options. I often forget I am even operating a generation facility here… until I see my electric bill… or lack thereof…

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            It’s a modern day version of Ludditism that has been also infected with the culture wars and climate denialism, IMO.

            We’d still be driving cars powered by leaded fuel and burning coal in basement furnaces if we left it up to these folks.

          2. William O'Keefe Avatar
            William O’Keefe

            That’s pure nonsense. All advances in technology are not the result of government mandates.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            Totally agree but many are – including nuclear technology that you seem to hold in high esteem.

            Not only did the govt develop it , they subsidized the development of it and the operation of it.

            Do you support that Bill?

            By the way , are you familiar with the levelized cost of energy that compares the costs of the various types?

            Do you see where nuclear is:


          4. William O'Keefe Avatar
            William O’Keefe

            Larry, you jump to an unsupported conclusion that I hold nuclear in high esteem. The Navy developed the first nuclear reactors for its submarines and then the technology was commercialized.
            The government invests a lot in R&D which is or should be application neutral.
            And, yes I am very familiar with LCOE. As I had said previously, government could do a great deal to lower the cost of nuclear.

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            they already subsidize it Bill.

            4 BILLION worth!


            Have other countries done better with less regs and subsidies?

          6. Lefty665 Avatar

            I admire your willingness to invest in renewables for your own energy needs. I have looked at it several times and to my chagrin was never able to justify the incremental expense. Good on ‘ya.

            The issues with large scale generation and transmission of renewable energy are not much different than those of fossil generation. Because they are cyclical they also have the as yet unsolved problem of storage or on demand fossil/nuclear to bridge the predictable generation gaps.

            Widespread solar on every rooftop has been a dream of mine for a long time. It would be a big step forward.

          7. Lefty665 Avatar

            Under the heading of missed opportunities was legislation in the ’70s to require solar in applications where it was cost competitive with other forms of power. The idea was that with each increase of installations there would be economies of scale and better products that would enable more applications to be cost competitive. It was a spiral to the top that would never cost more than what we were doing now! They were starting with things like buoys and mountain top repeaters. It was an essentially free incentive to jump start migration to solar.

            Unfortunately it got caught up in Nixon’s denouement and was never enacted. If it had been, now half a century later, we would be much further along into solar everywhere than we are in this wonderful world of the future we inhabit. People like you would not have to take the financial bite that they do today to do the right thing.

          8. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            That is indeed a shame. As to the financial bite, on balance it was really no more than I would spend on a new car (granted tax subsidies certainly helped there). I like to think of my solar array as the best car I’ve ever bought (and one with a 25 year life span to boot). It will pay for itself within 10 years (probably less) which is something no car has ever done for me. If I were younger and maybe did not have the money/cashflow to build it all in one fell swoop, I would start smaller and add to the system each year. The modular design is another terrific advantage in that regard.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    If you let just anyone come, Moms for Babcock-Wilcox will turn the meetings into bedlam.

  6. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Marsden is just doing what legislators should do and often do. The difference here is that he is announcing his process.

    I think he should be commended. He feels that the VCEA needs amending and he is seeking input from a wide variety of sources–environmentalists, the utilities (remember, Dominion has said in its SCC submissions that demand for electricity is rapidly increasing and additional natural gas generation may be needed), data centers (big energy hogs), administrative agencies (Youngkin can provide input here), local government, and business (Virginia FREE). I agree that there should be some input from consumers.

    Furthermore, he is doing this now and not waiting until the last minute before the session.

    This approach is not unheard of. For example, many years ago, the late Del. Bill Axselle asked representatives of local government to meet with him in his law office between sessions to review legislation he was considering. He explained that he liked to air any concerns and address them ahead of time.

    The “working papers” exemption is sometimes frustrating, but it is reasonable under certain circumstances. Having been a participant as staff in the legislative process, I came to realize that there are times when legislators need to discuss issues with constituents or “stake holders” in a setting in which there is no reporter or TV camera around. People are much more likely to be candid in those circumstances.

    Often, agencies and institutions invoke the “working papers” exemption when it clearly does not apply. They need to be called on that tactic.

    Marsden could have contacted each one of these stake holders privately and arranged to meet them in his office and told them at the meeting that the material they were providing would be exempt from FOIA.

    I would think there is nothing to prevent any of these stakeholders from publicizing later the information or advice they provided Marsden. Of course, if they do that, their names are mud as far as he, and probably other Democratic Senators, are concerned.

    I am wondering which Delegate is involved in this process. Marsden’s notice refers to “we” and meetings are scheduled in both Senate and House meeting rooms.

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Sometimes you just need to kick a ball around, e.g., bullpen. Like, oh, for example, the VP offering confidentiality to Big Oil CEOs to meet and kick around ideas before going to Afghanistan to discuss a pipeline.

    What possible harm?

  8. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Signs from God… whose golf course was the epicenter of a 4.8 magnitude earthquake?

    1. Lefty665 Avatar

      It may be an omen foretelling the election. Unless the Dems encourage dementia and giggles to retire to the beach and nominate real candidates at the convention.

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      If God works through earthquakes, They are definitely playing the long game… and what is the message from a 4.8 quake? “Obey me or I might interrupt your Zoom calls again”…?

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Empty G has called the eclipse and the earthquake signs from an angry god to repent and vote for our savior Trump.

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          The real question is will anyone be here on BR tomorrow after the Rapture…?

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive


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