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Dominion Settlement Yields Money for Offshore Wind, Smart Meters and Refunds to Consumers

Offshore Wind
U.S. Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management
The settlement allows Dominion to use excess profits in paying for its offshore wind demonstration project, smart meters and to provide consumer refunds of $67 for the average residential customer.

Because it’s a monopoly, Dominion is supposed to submit to price regulation, but it’s not that simple according to Will Cleveland, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“Dominion and its allies in the General Assembly have passed laws that handcuff the regulators’ ability to set fair prices," he explains. "In fact in 2015 they passed a law that suspended the commission’s oversight entirely.”

The law was repealed in 2018, and the company is now in the midst of a rate review by the State Corporation Commission which determined Dominion had been charging too much.

“Over the last four years, our analysis shows that Dominion has overcharged customers by over a billion dollars,” Cleveland says.

Faced with the prospect of a long public dispute, the firm has agreed to a $330 million refund – which sounds like a lot but comes out to just $67 for an average residential customer.

The utility also agrees to lower its rates by $50 million, but – again – the financial gain for residential customers is small -- just 90 cents a month, far less than state regulators felt was owed.

“I think the staff had put in testimony that the full rate reduction should have been closer to $200 million a year," says Cleveland ,"but again the law didn’t allow that.”

Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring said the settlement was fair given existing law, but the SELC’s Will Cleveland hopes the General Assembly will put new restraints on Dominion during its next legislative session.

Read the complete announcement here

Updated: October 20, 2021 at 8:44 AM EDT
Editor's Note: The Southern Environmental Law Center is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.