FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications Director
March 2, 2020
Senate Committee Fails to Advance Fair Energy Bills Act by One-Vote Margin
Dominion carried out unprecedented lobbying effort to avoid transparent review of its rates in 2021
Richmond — The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee failed to advance the Fair Energy Bills Act (HB 1132) with an 8-7 vote to pass the bill by indefinitely during its final meeting of the 2020 General Assembly Session. The legislation, introduced by Chief Patron Democratic Delegate Jay Jones (Norfolk) and Chief Co-Patron Republican Delegate Lee Ware (Powhatan), passed the House of Delegates earlier this month on a wide bipartisan margin, 77-23.
“The Senators who voted against the Fair Energy Bills Act showed that they are concerned first and foremost with protecting Dominion Energy’s ability to manipulate its regulatory environment in order to bloat profits at the expense of Virginia ratepayers,” Clean Virginia’s Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said.
A broad spectrum of bipartisan stakeholders testified in support of the legislation including the Office of the Governor, Office of the Attorney General, environmental groups, low-income advocates, faith organizations, the business community, real estate interests, data centers, and conservative grassroots coalitions. The Fair Energy Bills Act would have restored the State Corporation Commission (SCC) with its full regulatory authority to protect consumers during Dominion’s next earnings review in 2021. According to annual reports from the SCC, Dominion Energy has overcharged customers by more than $1.3 billion since 2015, yet due to existing law, the agency has been unable to issue full customer refunds or lower base rates. If passed, this bill would have saved Dominion customers nearly $10 a month on their electricity bills, according to SCC estimates.
“Virginians pay the 7th highest electricity bills in the country, and recent and pending legislation on new energy projects will only increase their bills further. The Fair Energy Bills Act would have shielded customers from shouldering a disproportionate financial burden as Virginia transitions to a clean energy economy. Senate Majority Leader and Commerce and Labor Chair Dick Saslaw will now have to answer for why he failed once again to protect customers from skyrocketing electricity bills,” Gilmore said.