Bipartisan Push to Provide More Oversight of Utility Bills
A bipartisan push to take back authority over Virginia’s largest utility, Dominion Energy, is making its way through the legislature.
Lawmakers are calling it the Fair Energy Bills Act, and it would require state regulators re-examine just how much money utilities are charging their consumers each month.
The measure passed the House with strong bipartisan support. It’s now waiting on a hearing in the Senate.
Republican Delegate Lee Ware, one of the bills sponsors, says Dominion has been overcharging Virginians for years.
“Instead of getting refunds to citizens - that money goes into projects designated by Dominion,” Ware said. “That seems to me the reverse of how oversight should occur.”
Dana Wiggins, with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, says giving regulators the power to lower base rates in energy bills could help offset other costs that are coming from things like cleaning up coal ash and improving the grid.
“And for a lot of customers it would act more like an offset for them as opposed to - necessarily - a huge reduction in bills,” said Wiggins.
A spokesman for Dominion says the company welcomes a conversation about how to make rates better for low-income customers, while also providing renewable energy.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the legislation applies to Appalachian Power.