Senate Bill 1096: A Dangerous Public School Giveaway to Dominion Energy

Background

Due to ratepayer concerns, the House of Delegates twice voted down SB988 “Electric utilities; electric school bus projects,” which had been conformed to match the House version of Delegate Kory’s HB75.

In this latest iteration of the bill, ratepayer protections and cost controls are even worse than the last time the House voted on it.

Specific Concerns

Ownership: Dominion is granted the authority to own and lease school buses – they are an electric utility monopoly, not a transportation company.

Cost: Ratepayers will be responsible for all costs associated with the electric school buses (not just the incremental costs for electric buses vs. diesel) and there is a concerning lack of SCC oversight into and reasonable cost constraints on the project.

Profit: Dominion will earn a guaranteed profit off of each school bus, which further incentivizes them to increase the costs of the project.

Dangerous precedent: Dominion gets to recover costs through a rate adjustment clause (RAC), but can also still use this project to cancel out base rate overearnings via CCROs, preventing refunds or lowered rates in their next rate case. This would be the first and only project of Dominion’s that could be recovered through both a RAC and a CCRO.

Environmental & environmental justice concerns: there is no consideration for pollution reduction or equity in determining which schools will be selected for this pilot program.

Lack of proper vetting: After months of discussion and vetting, substantial changes were made at the last minute, after the bill had been defeated twice. There has been a clear attempt to rush this bill through to avoid scrutiny of the substantial impact on ratepayers and the precedent of monopoly overreach.