In yesterday’s fast-moving action in the General Assembly, bills to end the electricity rate freeze underwent several important changes. I have done no original reporting here. I’m just extracting key details from Robert Zullo’s article in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.
A substitute bill submitted by Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott:
- Increases one-time rebates to Dominion Virginia Energy customers from $133 million to $175 million.
- Allows the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to order refunds and lower base rates after a single triennial review instead of after two consecutive three-year reviews.
- Allows the SCC to review 2017 earnings as part of the first review.
- Incorporates elements from other bills that would authorize the burial of transmission lines, streamline the approval of efficiency programs, and declare solar development to be in the public interest.
The Kilgore bill still converts two-year reviews of base electric rates to three-year reviews, and it preserves Dominion’s proposal for a “reinvestment” regulatory model for modernizing the electric grid to make it more resilient from storms, more secure from cyber-attack, and better suited to renewable power, energy efficiency and microgrids.
I’m still unclear on how the reinvestment model works. David Ress with the Daily Press describes the concept this way:
Any excess profits Dominion earns would go to pay for those investments, instead of going in part to customers or justifying cuts in its base rates. … By using any excess earnings to improve the grid and install an eightfold increase in solar facilities, the company can finance those projects out of existing rates without imposing the “riders” — special surcharges — it has been using to build its newest power plants.
OK… Why does this make more sense than the pre-freeze regulatory model? What’s wrong with rebating excess earnings on “base” rates to customers, and what’s wrong with financing grid modernization through riders? There may be perfectly legitimate reasons for the changes, but the logic is not self-evident.
The reinvestment model is central to the revamping of the electricity regulatory system. Everyone would benefit from more clarity on how it would work and the thinking behind it.There are currently no comments highlighted.