A move by Dominion Energy to monopolize renewables in their service has the potential to debilitate energy choice in Virginia.
Dominion is asking the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to approve a 100% renewables tariff that would give the utility a tremendous amount of control over its service territory, according to Cassady Craighill, communications director of renewables-focused Clean Virginia.
“If this tariff Dominion is asking for is approved by the SCC it pretty much eliminates competition for renewables in their service territories,” Craighill said. “People want choice. They want competition. They want wind and solar and this tariff would not exclusively provide that.”
SCC Approval Would Essentially Lock-In Dominion Customers
The tariff would make it difficult for customers who want renewables to exit their Dominion contracts because Dominion would argue it has the SCC’s stamp of approval as a renewable energy supplier.
“We’ve seen a lot of companies apply to leave based on wanting renewables and based on more competitive pricing,” Craighill said. “Several tech companies back in the spring actually sent a letter to the regulatory agency saying Dominion wasn’t offering enough renewables.
“You’re also seeing that from companies like Walmart and Costco, too,” she added. “They’re all clamoring to leave Dominion’s grip and go with another service provider.”
Dominion’s Track Record in Renewable Energy Is Questionable
Dominion’s renewable energy makes up 2% of its overall generation, Craighill said. The tariff could make it possible for Dominion to provide what would be dubbed renewable energy from coal, too, Craighill said.
The combination of these two facts has some doubting the company’s intention to provide the renewable energy its commercial, industrial and residential customers seek.
“It’s not a good faith effort to provide renewable energy,” Caighill said. “As we stand now, Dominion has a really poor track record for renewables, period.
“To bully other service providers of offering (a 100% renewables) option when they don’t really offer it themselves is pretty poor practice,” she added.
When asked why the SCC would approve Dominion’s request for a tariff in light the negative side effects, she said she didn’t have a good answer.
“It’s a bad move for the environment, it’s a bad move for customers who want energy choice, it’s a bad move for climate change and it’s a bad move for attracting new companies and employers,” she said. “I don’t think there’s any good reason approve.”