A freshman lawmaker took on Dominion, demanding customer refunds and scoring a win for Virginians
Virginia’s largest electric utility, Dominion Energy, is required to refund over $300 million to its Virginia customers and cut future rates by $50 million thanks to Del. Suhas Subramanyam’s 2020 consumer protection law (HB 528) and a 2021 settlement between the State Corporation Commission (SCC), the Office of the Attorney General, and the utility monopoly.
The result of Dominion’s triennial review of rates, also known as a rate case, represents a victory for consumers, with costs of living steadily rising and every dollar needing to count. It’s also clear evidence that more utility regulatory reform is urgently needed. Dominion is getting away with only refunding a fraction of the $1.1 billion it overcharged customers. The settlement further proves that rates could already be lower – the adjustment to future rates is less than a quarter of the $212 million SCC staff recommended.
Here’s what you need to know about the refunds:
Why are Dominion Energy customers receiving a refund?
House Bill 528 restored the SCC’s authority to establish recovery of costs associated with early retirements of coal plants in a manner that best serves customers. Before this bill, Dominion could unilaterally decide how to recover these large costs. Absent this legislation Dominion would have recovered over $900 million from customers all at once in an attempt to deprive customers of refunds and a rate cut.
I’m a Dominion Energy customer in Virginia. When will I receive my refund?
Beginning January 29, 2022 and throughout the 2022-2023 period, many Dominion residential customers should receive approximately $67 refunded back to customer accounts in the form of a check or bill credit. The total amount refunded will be based on a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month from 2017 to 2020. No one will call you to discuss or issue your refund.
Dominion has overcharged customers by $1.1 billion dollars. Why are customers not getting bigger refunds?
Dominion-backed laws have largely handcuffed the SCC in recent years and prevented the agency from taking the appropriate accounting and rate-making measures to protect consumers. For example, Dominion drafted and lobbied extensively to pass the 2018 Grid Modernization Act, which capped rate reductions for customers at only $50 million.
What happens if Dominion overcharges Virginians again?
Not if, when. Based on current laws, Dominion is overcharging Virginians right now and will continue to do so until the SCC has all the tools it needs to hold utilities accountable and keep prices low for all Virginia families and businesses. Legislators should continue the bipartisan progress to fix the loopholes that generate unearned excess profits and customer overcharges, including restoring the SCC’s authority to properly regulate Dominion.