FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Virginia General Assembly Allows Dominion Energy to Pocket Customer Overcharges
Budget agreement rewards Dominion shareholders, ignores Governor’s proposal to refund $320 million and Attorney General’s warnings about monthly bill increases
October 15, 2020
Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications and Advocacy Director
RICHMOND, VA — The General Assembly plans to let Dominion Energy pocket over half a billion dollars of customer overcharges while simultaneously forcing Virginia customers to pay for all outstanding debt that is owed to the monopoly, according to the budget agreement published yesterday. Instead of compelling overdue refunds, the proposed budget agreement puts the financial burden of the COVID-19 crisis and economic fallout solely on the shoulders of captive Dominion customers, allowing shareholders to pocket excess profits, despite warnings from both the Attorney General and the State Corporation Commission.
“The budget committee members squandered an opportunity to provide immediate relief to Virginians in favor of a handout to Dominion Energy. There is no debate about it — the General Assembly has given its blessing for Dominion Energy to pocket most of the $502.7 million that belongs to families and small businesses during an unprecedented time of need,” said Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore. “While the proposed Dominion debt forgiveness plan will help some customers, the General Assembly is forcing Virginians to pay for debt they did not accrue, while simultaneously allowing Dominion and its shareholders to keep excess profits they did not earn.”
The current proposed budget language:
- Fails to compel Dominion Energy to refund any of the $502.7 million it has overcharged Virginians since 2017.
- Forces other Virginians to pay all of the outstanding electric bills owed to Dominion that have accumulated during the COVID-19 crisis, letting shareholders off the hook from shouldering any of the burden.
- “Will increase future monthly bills to the extent that it is designed to reduce any future bill credits otherwise due customers from over-earnings,” according to Attorney General Mark Herring in a two-page letter sent last month to lawmakers.
The budget language from the nine-member House and Senate budget conference committee rebukes Governor Northam’s proposal to return $320 million of the $502.7 million Dominion Energy overcharged customers from 2017-2019 back to Virginians. Both chambers adopted debt forgiveness of accounts 30 days or more in arrearages through September 30th, but do not require Dominion Energy to provide any customer refunds.
“While bending over backwards for Dominion Energy in back room negotiations, the members of the budget committee failed Virginians. As a result, the General Assembly is set to shortchange millions of Dominion customers during an emergency session designed to provide assistance and relief to families and businesses,” Gilmore said.
A coalition of nearly 40 prominent advocacy organizations called on lawmakers last month to demand that Dominion Energy return the $502.7 million it has overcharged Virginians since 2017 in a full-page Richmond Times-Dispatch advertisement. The House and Senate could vote on the budget as early as Friday.
Clean Virginia is an independent advocacy organization with an associated Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund. Clean Virginia works to fight corruption in Virginia politics in order to promote clean energy and community control over our energy policy. For more information, visit cleanvirginia.org.