UPDATED WITH CORRECTION, APRIL 5: This press release has been updated to reflect that in its rate case filing, Dominion Energy appears to request that $67 million in customer refunds from 2018 be counted as a cost of service, which would result in customers paying Dominion back for those “refunds” in their monthly electricity bills. The original press release stated that it was requesting that $200 million in customer refunds be counted as a cost of service.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Diana Williams, Clean Virginia Communications Lead
April 1, 2021
BREAKING: Dominion Energy Requests Massive Profit Increase
Virginia’s largest utility monopoly demands customers pay back 2018 refunds
Richmond — Dominion Energy filed its first triennial rate review application yesterday to the State Corporation Commission (SCC), marking the first time since 2015 that regulators will examine the base rates Dominion’s customers pay for energy in Virginia. Base rates currently account for approximately 60% of a typical customer bill. The SCC will also examine Dominion’s earnings during the review period.
In the filing, Dominion requests a significant increase in its annual profit, admits to overcharging Virginians for energy, and asserts that Virginians should be required to pay back $67 million in “refunds” the monopoly was compelled to grant in 2018 as part of the Grid Transformation and Securities Act (GTSA).
“Dominion Energy’s audacious request to increase its profits adds insult to injury for Virginians whom Dominion already overcharged by over $500 million since 2017. Dominion has gotten away with ripping off families and small businesses and pocketing money that should be refunded back to customers — and now it wants more,” said Brennan Gilmore, Clean Virginia Executive Director.
Key initial takeaways from Dominion’s filing:
- Continued customer overcharges: Dominion’s application indicates that it continues to overcharge Virginians by hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Further, the monopoly concedes that it has overcharged Virginians even after taking into account COVID-19 debt forgiveness.
- Request for massive profit increase: Despite years of record low interest rates and an extremely favorable regulatory environment in Virginia, Dominion requests to increase its authorized profit level from 9.2% to 10.8%. This profit increase would also immediately raise customer rates and bills. The SCC denied a similar request in 2019, a request the agency estimated would have cost Virginians $1.4 billion over 25 years.
- Turning refunds into “payday loans:” By including the $67 million in customer refunds Dominion was compelled to grant Virginians under the 2018 GTSA in its earnings test, Dominion requests that Virginians pay back their own “refunds.”
“In this filing, it appears that Dominion has employed every accounting trick in the book to hide the hundreds of millions of dollars it has overcharged Virginians. Virginians desperately need reform of our broken regulatory laws so utilities are not rewarded with extra profit made by overcharging customers for electricity,” Gilmore said.
Virginia residents pay the sixth-highest electricity bills in the nation, according to data collected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Dominion’s current review will only examine the monopoly’s “base rates,” which make up approximately sixty percent of an average customer’s monthly utility bill, according to a Virginia Poverty Law Center report.
The SCC will issue a ruling on the rate case in November after several months of testimony and public hearings.