Clean Virginia: Youngkin should continue bipartisan progress on energy, ethics reform
November 3, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT:

Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications and Advocacy Director cassady@cleanvirginia.org, 828-817-3328

Clean Virginia: Youngkin should continue bipartisan progress on energy, ethics reform

10 Clean Virginia-backed House incumbents defend seats against competitive challengers

November 3, 2021

CHARLOTTESVILLE  — In response to the results of Virginia’s 2021 General Elections, Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said,

“The progress made so far in Virginia on energy and good governance reform is thanks to bipartisan leadership and cooperation. Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin should continue that tradition so that every Virginian will benefit from fair and ethical governance and an affordable clean energy economy.”

“Both gubernatorial candidates knew that refusing direct campaign contributions from Dominion Energy would resonate with voters. Now it’s time for Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin to make good on campaign promises and hold Dominion Energy accountable. There is a powerful contingent of legislators from both parties in the Virginia General Assembly who have fought hard for energy and ethics reform — they must now defend the legislative progress already made that protects Virginia from corporate polluters and the worst impacts of the climate crises, unethical self-dealing, and unaffordable energy costs.”

Clean Virginia’s Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund invested nearly $3 million in the 2021 General Election in key regions, including the districts of ten incumbents who defended their seats against competitive challengers —  Del. Dawn Adams (D-Richmond), Del. Kelly Fowler (D-Virginia Beach), Del. Wendy Gooditis (D-Loudoun), Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Woodbridge), Del. Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax), Del. Mike Mullin (D-Newport News), Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William), Del. Clinton Jenkins (D-Norfolk), Del. Shelly Simonds (D-Newport News), and Del. Rodney Willett (D-Henrico), and in the district of Del. Alex Askew (D-Virginia Beach) a Clean Virginia champion whose race remains uncalled. 

In addition to direct financial support to over 60 candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates, all of whom share a principled stance against accepting campaign contributions from Virginia utility monopolies and owning stock in those companies, canvassers knocked on over 100,000 doors in over a dozen districts. Additionally, a Clean Virginia-funded advertising program featuring an anti-corruption message and Delegate votes to lower electricity bills reached millions of voters on digital platforms. 

The message from voters on doorsteps and online was crystal clear: the era of corporate monopolies ruling Virginia politics must end. The winners of this week’s elections should uplift those voices when they are facing armies of corporate utility lobbyists seeking to manipulate the law and self-regulate.”

See the full list of endorsements here. 

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Clean Virginia is a 501(c)4 independent advocacy organization with an associated Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund. Clean Virginia works to fight corruption in Virginia politics in order to promote clean energy, a robust, competitive economy, and community control over our energy policy. We are motivated by the core belief that our democracy should serve average Virginians over special interests. 

Lawmakers weigh in on Dominion Energy rate case settlement in public testimony
October 22, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications and Advocacy Director
cassady@cleanvirginia.org, 828-817-3328

October 22, 2021

Lawmakers weigh in on Dominion Energy rate case settlement in public testimony
$330 million customer refund “great first step,” but more reform needed to control costs

Richmond — During public testimony today, multiple legislators applauded Virginia’s utility regulator, the State Corporation Commission (SCC), and the agency’s proposed settlement with Dominion Energy and the Office of the Attorney General. This settlement is the latest development in Dominion Energy’s rate case, the first time in six years that regulators can examine the monopoly’s earnings and what customers pay for electricity. Senator John Bell (D-Loudon), Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), Delegate Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville), and Delegate Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudon) all pointed out that the settlement’s $330 million customer refund and $50 million rate decrease are victories for customers, but only represent the maximum amount permitted by law and that more reform is needed to grant reasonable electricity rates.

“Though we still have a long way to go to achieve fair utility practices in Virginia, a refund of $330 million for ratepayers is a great first step,” said Del. Subramanyam who passed a 2020 law that restored key decision-making authority to the SCC, unlocking the ability for regulators to grant any customer refunds during Dominion’s 2021 rate case.

“The passage of this legislation was a huge victory for ratepayers, and it was the result of many years of effort starting at the grassroots to hold our regulated utilities accountable,” Del. Subramanyam said in his rate case testimony.

Dominion Energy has overcharged customers by over $1.1 billion, according to SCC staff, but due to utility-friendly state laws, customers will only receive a fraction of these overcharges back as refunds and future rates cannot be lowered by more than $50 million, despite the SCC’s calculation that customers are due for a $212 million rate cut.

“The General Assembly must commit to fixing this broken system once and for all so that regulators have the authority required to do their jobs and set reasonable prices for electricity in Virginia,” said Clean Virginia Political and Legislative Director Lizzie Hylton. “Virginians cannot afford Dominion Energy’s chronic manipulation of regulation in its favor any longer.”

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Clean Virginia Responds to Dominion Energy Rate Case Settlement
October 19, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications and Advocacy Director

cassady@cleanvirginia.org, 828-817-3328

Charlottesville — In response to news that Dominion Energy, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Virginia State Corporate Commission (SCC) staff have reached a potential settlement that would grant customers with $330 million in refunds and a $50 million rate reduction, the maximum amount permitted by law despite regulatory findings that customers are owed a $212 million rate cut, Clean Virginia Political and Legislative Director Lizzie Hylton said,

“This settlement represents a major improvement over the status quo that Virginians have suffered under for far too long. Thanks to the tireless work of the Office of the Attorney General and State Corporation Commission staff as well as to the thousands of Virginians who spoke out during this rate case, Dominion Energy is finally not getting 100% of what it wants and Virginians will get at least some of their money back from Dominion Energy. But until the General Assembly takes action, Virginia’s pro-monopoly laws will continue to permit Dominion to dodge any real regulation or oversight – laws that in this case prevented Virginians from having the full $1.1 billion of Dominion overcharges refunded back to them and a $212 million reduction in energy bills moving forward.”

The SCC Commissioners still must approve the settlement, which includes a higher return on equity for Dominion Energy – 9.3% compared to the current 9.2% rate. Dominion Energy had requested a return of 10.8%.  The settlement announcement follows testimony from multiple stakeholders, including the Office of the Attorney General, the U.S. Navy, Walmart, the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, and low-income organizations, that voiced unified opposition to Dominion’s request for a higher profit level, which could cause billions in additional charges to Virginian customers.

Key takeaways from rate case testimony: 

– Overcharges: Dominion overcharged customers by $1.1 billion since 2017, according to SCC staff.

– Customer refunds: The Office of the Attorney General and regulators both recommend customer refunds of at least $312 million. Although the recommended amount represents a fraction of the total amount Dominion overcharged customers, customers would receive no refunds if not for a consumer protection law (HB 528) passed by Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudon), which restored oversight of Dominion’s cost-recovery timeline to regulators.

– Rate decrease: The Office of the Attorney General and SCC staff recommend a base rate decrease of $50 million. The SCC emphasized that the rate decrease would be $212 million if not for a Dominion-backed law that caps the maximum decrease at only $50 million.

In response to a request by nearly 20 Virginia lawmakers to analyze what customer refunds would be if the General Assembly had passed legislation removing a customer refund cap, SCC staff calculated that Dominion would owe customers $830.9 million in refunds. 

Clean Virginia has submitted nearly 2,500 public comments during Dominion Energy’s rate case, all opposing the profit increase and potential increases in customer bills.

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A 2020 law could decide whether Dominion customers get zero or $372 million in refunds
October 4, 2021

Dominion Energy’s Virginia customers could see as much as $372 million in refunds if state regulators agree with public utility commission staff and Virginia’s attorney general about how the utility’s hundreds of millions of dollars related to coal plant closures over the past four years should be handled. 

The decision, which will be made by the State Corporation Commission in early 2022, will be handed down as part of Virginia’s first review of the electric utility’s rates and earnings in six years. 

Serving roughly 5 million of Virginia’s 8.5 million residents, Dominion is the state’s largest electric utility and is both a major player and campaign donor in Richmond, where it has close ties with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

While Dominion says that between 2017 and 2020, it didn’t earn more than what state law allows, the commission staff and Virginia’s attorney general, contend the utility raked in almost $1 billion in excess profits.  

Which argument regulators accept will be heavily influenced by their interpretation of a wonky 2020 state law that governs how the utility can recover the costs of fossil fuel plants that have been shut down early. 

Hanging in the balance are not only potential customer refunds — which SCC staff say total $312 million and the Attorney General’s Office pegs at $372 million — but also the possibility of regulators cutting electric rates in the future. Base rates have remained around the level established in a 1992 case, with most of the increases in customer bills since then coming from riders.

The State Corporation Commission’s decision on the retirement costs is “the whole ballgame,” said Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Will Cleveland, who is representing nonprofit Appalachian Voices in the rate case. 

The 2020 state law, House Bill 528, “imposes upon the commission an obligation to set the payoff period in the way that best serves the customers,” said Cleveland. “And Virginia utility law since 2007 has never prioritized the customer.” 

Though the law went into effect on July 1, 2020, Dominion said in a legal memo filed Friday that it would be unconstitutional to apply it to the current case because the company had already made the decision to retire the relevant plants prior to passage of the bill, when it thought all of the costs could be recovered at once.

“The General Assembly can certainly change the ‘rules of the game’ prospectively within the confines of constitutional protections. It cannot, however, establish a ground rule … have the utility act and rely upon that ground rule; and then change the rule to apply it retroactively; impacting how over a billion dollars of costs are recovered, what obligations the company has for refunds, and how its rates will be set prospectively,” the utility argued. “Such retroactive action would impermissibly impact the company’s rights and responsibilities.”

Calculating earnings

Virginia law establishes a complicated framework for handling any earnings taken in by Dominion and the state’s other large electric utility, Appalachian Power Company, that exceed the utilities’ costs of providing service and granting returns to shareholders. 

By statute, both utilities are allowed to keep a generous share of any excess earnings they take in. Not only do they retain all earnings up to 0.7 percent above their state-set return on equity, but state law explicitly allows the utilities to keep 30 percent of all earnings above that upper limit. The remaining 70 percent is returned to customers. 

Dominion’s current return on equity is 9.2 percent. In practice, that means it will keep all earnings up to a 9.9 percent ceiling as well as 30 percent of all additional over-earnings. 

Kevin O’Donnell, a consultant retained by the U.S. Department of the Navy to represent the interests of the federal executive agencies in the rate case, said in testimony that “such overearnings are not to be taken lightly as the amount of dollars involved is in the millions.” 

The Department of the Navy estimated that Dominion had taken in “at least $243 million” and “perhaps as much as $500 million” in excess earnings between 2017 and 2020. The Office of the Attorney General has put the number at $994 million, while SCC staff estimate it at $961 million. 

“The Virginia economy, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years, could use a multi-million dollar infusion related to the (Dominion) over-earnings as opposed to these overearnings generally flowing out of Virginia in the form of potentially higher dividends paid to stockholders,” wrote O’Donnell. 

Power plant retirement costs

While several factors will play a role in determining exactly how much Dominion earned over the past four years and how much — if anything — it may owe customers, the costs of retiring fossil fuel plants early may be the most consequential. 

Those costs, linked to the early retirement of plants in 2019 and 2020, are equal to roughly $686 million in SCC staff’s estimation. 

How that money is accounted for will have big implications for customers.

Prior to 2018, the SCC had the authority to determine the number of years over which Dominion and Appalachian Power could recover from ratepayers the costs of early power plant retirements. That year, however, a provision of the Grid Transformation and Security Act passed by the General Assembly gave the utilities the right to recover all of those costs in a single year — allowing them to offset any overearnings that might otherwise have to be returned to customers. 

In 2020, with both utilities’ first rate reviews in years looming, lawmakers from both parties balked at the prospect. 

In a surprise vote that went against the wishes of not only Dominion, but two of its most reliable allies in the Senate, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, and Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, both chambers of the General Assembly passed HB528, which was aimed at protecting ratepayers. 

The bill, carried by Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Loudoun, explicitly gave the SCC the authority to independently assess the costs of prematurely closed power plants and set a recovery period for those costs “that best serves ratepayers.” 

“The utility has an obligation to the shareholders. We have an obligation to the ratepayers. They are the folks who elect us,” said Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, during a floor debate on the bill. “Regardless of whether anybody made a mistake or thinks they made a mistake in that grid transformation bill, our obligation and responsibility remains to the ratepayer.” 

All at once or over 25 years?

Dominion says recovering all of the early retirement costs during the 2017-2020 period being evaluated by regulators is in customers’ best interests. 

“Under this accounting, customers are protected,” wrote Dominion Energy Virginia President Edward Baine in testimony. 

“Spreading those costs in the future does just that — it requires customers to continue to fund those investments, including any applicable financing costs, even though there were sufficient revenues to fully recover them during a prior period,” added utility consultant John Reed. “This would result in increased costs during those future periods, reducing available earnings and even potentially necessitating a rate increase depending on the length of the recovery period.” 

But SCC staff firmly disagreed, arguing for a 25-year recovery period for the $686 million in costs it calculates are linked to the closures.

“Twenty-five years best serves ratepayers, or customers, because it results in significant, immediate and known benefits to customers,” testified SCC Division of Utility Accounting and Finance Deputy Director Patrick Carr. 

While Carr acknowledged recovering costs over a longer period of time would mean ratepayers will pay a higher dollar figure due to financing, he said other benefits would outweigh those costs. 

Specifically, setting a 25-year recovery period would “reduce expense in the current triennial period by an amount sufficient to provide for refunds and, thus, trigger the opportunity to reduce going-forward rates,” he wrote. 

Under state law, the SCC cannot order a rate reduction if refunds are not issued. 

Another provision of the 2018 Grid Transformation and Security Act capped any reduction of Dominion’s rates during the current review at $50 million annually. 

With both SCC staff and the Office of the Attorney General recommending that the early retirement costs be recovered over a 25-year period, both also say that not only should customers get a refund, but that Dominion’s rates should be reduced by the maximum amount of $50 million. 

Calculations of the refunds due ratepayers differ, however. The Attorney General’s Office puts the figure at roughly $372 million, while SCC staff say the amount due is closer to $312 million. A separate proposal from  Appalachian Voices, a frequent intervenor in utility cases before the SCC, would set the recovery period at 20 years and also puts refunds at $372 million. 

Under Dominion’s proposal, customers would receive no refunds. 

In rebuttal testimony filed with the SCC Friday, Dominion said it did not believe that HB528 applied to its rate case because the retirement decisions were made prior to the July 1 date when the new law went into effect. 

At the time Dominion decided to close the power plants in question, the answer of how the remaining costs should be recovered “was clear and directed by statute,” said Baine. “They were to be recovered immediately through any available earnings, and not pushed forward into the future.”

But even if the new law does apply, the company made it clear that it still considers longer-term cost recovery to be not in customers’ best interests. 

Dominion Director of Regulatory Accounting John Ingram wrote that “it is clear” that SCC staff, the Office of the Attorney General and Appalachian Voices were attempting “to engineer a result that emphasizes short-term bill credits and a rate reduction, without consideration for the impacts that such treatment will have on future customers.”

In earlier testimony, however, Appalachian Voices consultant Heather Bailey said years of Dominion overcharging customers for electricity necessitates action by regulators. 

“When a utility consistently overcharges customers by hundreds of millions of dollars, we can reasonably assume the cause is that rates are too high,” she wrote. “Under that rule, Dominion’s rates have clearly been too high for many years, and the Commission should exercise every tool in its discretion to set fair and balanced rates going forward.”

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Robert Zullo for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

Dominion overcharged Virginia customers by over $1 billion, according to state regulators
September 22, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT:

Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications and Advocacy Director

cassady@cleanvirginia.org, 828-817-3328

September 21, 2021

Dominion overcharged Virginia customers by over $1 billion, according to state regulators 

Utility-friendly state laws still restrain regulatory agency from full authority during rate case 

Richmond — Dominion Energy has overcharged customers by over $1.1 billion, according to Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) staff in the latest development of Dominion’s rate case, the first time in six years that regulators can examine the monopoly’s earnings and what customers pay for energy. Due to utility-friendly state laws, customers will only receive a fraction of these overcharges back as refunds – $312 million – and future rates cannot be lowered by more than $50 million, despite the SCC’s calculation that customers are due for a $212 million rate cut. 

“Dominion Energy’s manipulation of regulation in its favor causes real financial pain for Virginians,” said Laura Gonzalez, Energy and Regulatory Policy Lead at Clean Virginia. “Our current energy system prioritizes excessive corporate profit over fairly priced clean energy, and Virginians deserve better. Regulators and lawmakers must do everything possible to end this legalized theft by powerful utility monopolies in Virginia.” 

The SCC response follows testimony from multiple stakeholders, including the Office of the Attorney General, the U.S. Navy, Walmart, the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, and low-income organizations, that voiced unified opposition to Dominion’s request for a higher profit level, which could cause billions in additional charges to Virginian customers.

Key takeaways from rate case testimony: 

– Overcharges: Dominion overcharged customers by $1.1 billion since 2017, according to SCC staff. 

– Customer refunds: The Office of the Attorney General and regulators both recommend customer refunds of at least $312 million. Although the recommended amount represents a fraction of the total amount Dominion overcharged customers, customers would receive no refunds if not for a consumer protection law (HB 528) passed by Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudon), which restored oversight of Dominion’s cost-recovery timeline to regulators. 

– Rate decrease: The Office of the Attorney General and SCC staff recommend a base rate decrease of $50 million. The SCC emphasized that the rate decrease would be $212 million if not for a Dominion-backed law that caps the maximum decrease at only $50 million.

In response to a request by nearly 20 Virginia lawmakers to analyze what customer refunds would be if the General Assembly had passed legislation removing a customer refund cap, SCC staff calculated that Dominion would owe customers $830.9 million in refunds. 

Dominion will file rebuttal testimony next month and will respond to the recommendations of the respondents and SCC Staff. The SCC will issue a final ruling on the rate case early next year after several months of testimony and public hearings.

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Major House District Upset, Record Number of Democratic Primary Candidates Running on Refusing Contributions from Regulated Utilities
By Cassady Craighill | June 9, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications and Advocacy Director cassady@cleanvirginia.org, 828-817-3328

Major House District Upset, Record Number of Democratic Primary Candidates Running on Refusing Contributions from Regulated Utilities 

June 8, 2021

CHARLOTTESVILLE  — In response to the Virginia Democratic primary election results, Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said, 

“Thanks to years of a growing movement to limit the influence of utility monopolies in Virginia politics, Nadarius Clark, a stalwart community organizer deeply committed to the people of House District 79, won a valiant upset campaign over an entrenched incumbent with a long track record of prioritizing the interests of Dominion Energy over his constituents.”

“In total, thirteen Democratic primary candidates who refused contributions from Dominion Energy won their races. This common-sense move of refusing money from the utility monopolies General Assembly members are elected to regulate  — a move that not long ago was considered political self-sabotage — has become the standard for both statewide and district-level races. These candidates have simply changed the conversation in Virginia by campaigning on platforms of accountability for Virginia’s corporate utility monopolies.”

“Today’s primary elections mark the first time in Virginia history in which the Democratic nominees for Virginia’s Governor and Attorney General have refused utility monopoly campaign contributions. While our endorsed statewide candidates — Delegates Jennifer Carroll Foy and Jay Jones — fell short of victory, Clean Virginia is proud to have helped these incredible leaders tell their stories and advocate for a Virginia that puts people over profit.  We congratulate Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Delegate Hala Ayala, Attorney General Mark Herring, and all of tonight’s successful House of Delegates candidates on their Democratic nominations tonight and their hard-fought campaigns.”

“Clean Virginia will continue supporting candidates and amplifying voices that traditional power brokers in the Commonwealth have often ignored. This is part of our sustained commitment to confronting the outsized political influence of Virginia’s corporate monopolies, transitioning equitably to a clean energy economy, and ensuring ethical and transparent governance in Virginia.”

Clean Virginia endorsed and financially supported former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy for Governor and Del. Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) for Attorney General. Clean Virginia also supported the Lieutenant Governor campaigns of Delegates Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) and Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), and Sean Perryman. Clean Virginia withdrew support for Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) after Ayala accepted $100,000 from Dominion Energy last week. (Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), who withdrew as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, was also supported). In addition to statewide endorsements and support, Clean Virginia to-date has endorsed 29 Democratic House of Delegates candidates, including 27 incumbents, and plans to roll out further endorsements in the coming weeks. See the full list of endorsements here. 

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Clean Virginia is a 501(c)4 independent advocacy organization with an associated Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund. Clean Virginia works to fight corruption in Virginia politics in order to promote clean energy, a robust, competitive economy, and community control over our energy policy. We are motivated by the core belief that our democracy should serve average Virginians over special interests.


About The Author

Photo of Major House District Upset, Record Number of Democratic Primary Candidates Running on Refusing Contributions from Regulated Utilities
Cassady Craighill (she/her)

A North Carolina to Virginia transplant via D.C., Cassady has spent over a decade engaging audiences about energy, climate change, and civic engagement. After earning an M.A. from Georgetown University and publishing research about public perceptions of complex technologies, Cassady worked for Greenpeace USA where she developed strategies for communicating about climate impacts, the influence of the oil and gas industry on our democracy, and the energy footprint from the internet. An expert in rapid response communications, Cassady’s quotes have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Associated Press. She lives in Charlottesville with her husband and daughter.

BREAKING: Del. Hala Ayala Accepts $100K Donation From Dominion Energy, Betraying Public Commitment
June 2, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Diana Williams, Clean Virginia Communications Lead
diana@cleanvirginia.org, 540-836-8125 

BREAKING: Del. Hala Ayala Accepts $100K Donation From Dominion Energy, Betraying Public Commitment
Running for lieutenant governor, Ayala now the only statewide Democratic candidate to take campaign contributions from Dominion 

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginians learned this morning that Delegate Hala Ayala, candidate for lieutenant governor, accepted $100,000 from Dominion Energy despite publicly promising to refuse donations from the state’s largest electric utility monopoly. This has made Del. Ayala the only Democratic candidate running statewide to accept any campaign contributions from Dominion. Clean Virginia had previously supported Ayala’s campaign for the House of Delegates and contributed $25,000 to her current run for lieutenant governor based on her previous public commitment to refuse utility monopoly money. She reiterated this commitment in Clean Virginia’s candidate questionnaire for both the 2019 and 2021 election cycles. 

“In the final days of the primary campaign for Virginia’s lieutenant governor, with tens of thousands of votes already cast, Del. Hala Ayala chose to break a public commitment taking $100,000 from Dominion Energy and betraying the public’s trust,” said Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore. “Virginians should know that Del. Ayala chose to side with a corporate monopoly that has unjustly overcharged Virginians by $1.3 billion.”

In response, Clean Virginia will be launching a $125,000 statewide digital ad campaign in the final days of the lieutenant governor primary campaign to ensure that voters across the Commonwealth are aware of this broken promise and the harmful effects of decades of Dominion’s legalized corruption on everyday Virginians. Dominion has overcharged Virginians by more than $1.3 billion since 2015 and Virginia customers pay the 6th highest bills in the country. Yet, Dominion refuses to issue refunds and has even requested an increase to its authorized profit level from 9.2% to 10.8% as part of its rate review by the State Corporation Commission. If approved, this request would immediately raise bills even higher. 

“Del. Ayala’s actions are uniquely disappointing and deceptive – she has campaigned for statewide office on a promise to Virginians that she would hold polluting utility monopolies accountable and then accepted a massive contribution from Dominion Energy. That is not leadership — it is desperation,” said Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore.

Through the Clean Virginia Fund, Clean Virginia’s political action committee, Clean Virginia transparently and predictably gives to Virginia candidates or incumbents who refuse contributions from Virginia’s regulated utility monopolies (i.e., Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company) and their employed registered lobbyists and who do not own stock in those corporations. Del. Ayala denied accepting contributions in Clean Virginia’s 2021 Statewide Candidate Questionnaire: “I did not accept campaign contributions from Virginia utility monopolies or their employed lobbyist during any of campaigns, and I will not accept them while running for Lieutenant Governor.” 

Clean Virginia also contributed to the Lieutenant Governor campaigns of Delegates Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William County), Mark Levine (D-Alexandria),Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), and Sean Perryman.

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Clean Virginia Announces First Round of Candidate Endorsements in Virginia’s General Assembly Elections
May 12, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT:

Diana Williams, Clean Virginia Communications Lead
diana@cleanvirginia.org, 540-836-8125

Clean Virginia Announces First Round of Candidate Endorsements in Virginia’s General Assembly Elections
Endorsed Candidates Refuse Utility Monopoly Contributions and Demonstrate Commitment to Clean Government and Clean Energy

Charlottesville – Clean Virginia endorsed today 29 candidates running in Virginia’s 2021 House of Delegates primary and general elections. All supported candidates in this first round of endorsements have made a principled stance against taking campaign contributions from Virginia’s regulated utility monopolies and owning stock in those corporations.

“Clean Virginia continues to invest in a diverse group of candidates and incumbents who champion clean energy, embrace transparency and are committed to putting their constituents’ interests before those of our utility monopolies,” Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said. “We are thrilled to endorse these candidates and support them in their runs for office.”

In addition to the House of Delegates races, Clean Virginia has endorsed Jennifer Carroll Foy for Governor and Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) for Attorney General. Clean Virginia also contributed to the campaigns of Delegates Hala Ayala (D-Prince William), Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) and Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) as well as Sean Perryman for Lieutenant Governor. (Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), who withdrew as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, was also supported.)

Clean Virginia endorses candidates based on a variety of criteria, including: 

  • Responses to our 2021 Candidate Questionnaire on clean governance and clean energy policy
  • Public statements
  • Legislative record (for incumbents)
  • Stance on accepting contributions from and directly owning stock in Virginia’s regulated utility monopolies — like Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company — and their employed lobbyists 

In addition to announcing financial support for 29 candidates and incumbents in House of Delegates races, Clean Virginia launched a paid media campaign this week for the campaigns of Jennifer Carroll Foy for Governor and Del. Jay Jones for Attorney General. 

An additional round of endorsements will follow later this month. Visit https://www.cleanvirginia.org/2021-clean-virginia-endorsements/ for details about each endorsed candidate. 

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Clean Virginia is a 501(c)4 independent advocacy organization with an associated Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund. Clean Virginia works to fight corruption in Virginia politics in order to promote clean energy, a robust, competitive economy, and community control over our energy policy. We are motivated by the core belief that our democracy should serve average Virginians over special interests. 

 

Clean Virginia Endorses Delegate Jay Jones for Attorney General
April 1, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 1, 2021

Clean Virginia Endorses Delegate Jay Jones for Attorney General

Advocacy organization’s PAC also donates an additional $150,000 to Jones’ campaign

Charlottesville — In its first 2021 endorsement for a statewide candidate, Clean Virginia announced its endorsement today for Delegate Jay Jones’ candidacy for Attorney General. The clean energy and good governance advocacy group initially supported Delegate Jones’ (D-Norfolk) bid with a contribution of $100,000 from Clean Virginia Fund, the political action committee associated with Clean Virginia, when Jones announced his run in July 2020. With the additional $150,000 committed this month, Clean Virginia has contributed a total of $250,000 to Jones.

“We’re thrilled to officially endorse Del. Jay Jones for Attorney General, the top consumer protection officer for the state. Del. Jones has demonstrated time and again that he will champion energy reform and protect working Virginians through his bipartisan leadership in the fight against legalized corruption in the Commonwealth,” said Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore.

Jones and Clean Virginia share a commitment to empowering regular Virginians as a crucial part of ensuring a just, clean energy transition in Virginia. As a Delegate, Jones has championed multiple major pieces of legislation seeking to return hundreds of millions of dollars of Dominion Energy overcharges back to Virginia families and businesses as well as legislation designed to help facilitate access to rooftop solar panels for low-income communities.

“As a partner in the fights for fair energy policy and ending legalized corruption, I am honored to have the endorsement of Clean Virginia. I am running for Attorney General to ensure that the interests of all Virginians are protected, not just those of large corporations,” said Jones. “And this fight against corruption has never been more important than it is today.”

Jones was also the first endorsement of the 2021 cycle by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. In his statement, Northam said, “As a state delegate, Jay has led from the front in fighting for long-overdue justice reform, prioritizing our consumers, and protecting our environment.”

Clean Virginia joins Gov. Ralph Northam, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), over 30 state legislators, and dozens more local elected officials and community leaders in endorsing Jones.

Jones is a Norfolk native who comes from a long line of public servants. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017 representing the 89th District.

CONTACT:

Cassady Craighill, 828-817-3328, cassady@cleanvirginia.org

Samson Signori, 757-625-8989, Samson@jayjones.com

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Jay Jones is a state Delegate from Norfolk, VA. In the legislature, Jay has championed protection for our environment, holding utility companies accountable, and standing up for workers. If elected, Jay would be Virginia’s first Black Attorney General.

 Clean Virginia is an independent advocacy organization with an associated Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund. Clean Virginia works to fight corruption in Virginia politics in order to promote clean energy and community control over our energy policy. Clean Virginia’s funding is provided by founder Michael Bills. For details on Clean Virginia’s financial reports and political giving, please visit our listing at Virginia’s Public Access Project.

BREAKING: Dominion Energy Requests Massive Profit Increase
April 1, 2021

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

CONTACT:

Diana Williams, Clean Virginia Communications Lead
diana@cleanvirginia.org, 540-836-8125

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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