VPM intern Patrick Larsen reported this story.
Delegates Mark Keam and Lee Ware, a Democrat and a Republican respectively, are pushing a bill that could fundamentally change how electric utilities are regulated in Virginia.
The Virginia Energy Reform Act would limit monopolies by only allowing them to oversee one part of Virginia’s energy infrastructure. Currently, companies like Dominion Energy control the entire process of how energy is created and distributed.
“The rest of that process – the rest of the chain – will be opened up to free market competition,” Keam said.
Ware said that there’s been no shortage of innovation in energy technology in the last decade, and that more progress is being made all the time.
“And yet, we haven’t moved much forward,” Ware said.
The lawmakers say reducing the strength of large utility companies would encourage competition in Virginia’s energy market, allowing innovation with renewable energy resources to thrive. They also expect that introducing competition could drive ratepayers’ bills down.
A spokesperson for Dominion Energy says the opposite – that states with such regulations often see much higher electric bills.
Keam says he’s not worried about the large number of energy bills that will be considered this year getting in the way of his.
“I welcome all of that, I’ll work with all of them,” Keam said. “I think what we’re doing complements as opposed to contradicts anything.”
The 2020 General Assembly session starts Wednesday, January 8th.