FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cassady Craighill, Clean Virginia Communications and Advocacy Director
September 25, 2020
Virginia House and Senate Fail to Refund any of the $500 Million Dominion Energy Has Overcharged Virginians
Budget committees ignore Governor’s proposal, House budget allows utility to keep nearly $430 million in overcharges
In response to the budgets released today by the Virginia House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, both of which largely ignore Governor Northam’s proposal to return $320 million of the $502.7 million Dominion Energy overcharged customers from 2017-2019 back to Virginians in the form of refunds and overdue utility bill debt forgiveness, Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said:
“Dominion Energy is unfortunately exploiting the emergency special session and the current crisis for its own economic benefit. Working with traditional allies in the legislature, the monopoly has inserted budget language that allows it to withhold nearly $430 million owed to Virginians. While Virginians should receive all $502.7 million that Dominion overcharged them, supporting the Governor’s solution was the clear right choice: return $320 million to Virginians through direct refunds and debt forgiveness using just a portion of the half a billion that Dominion Energy already overcharged customers since 2017. It’s not too late for the General Assembly to adopt the Governor’s initiative and honor the purpose of this special legislative session — to help Virginians struggling under the weight of two unprecedented crises.”
In its last extension of the utility disconnection moratorium, the SCC warned that “unless the General Assembly explicitly directs that a utility’s own shareholders must bear the cost of unpaid bills, those costs will almost certainly be shifted to other paying customers.” Shareholders are not responsible for covering the overdue utility bill debt in the proposal from both chambers of the General Assembly.
Unlike the budget language proposed by Governor Northam, the language from both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly does not require Dominion Energy to provide refunds to all residential, commercial, and industrial customers. And while both the House and Senate budgets direct Dominion to provide some measure of debt forgiveness, the House language falls far short of the Senate version. The House only directs Dominion to forgive the debt of accounts 60 days or more in arrearages through August 31st, compared with the Senate’s debt forgiveness of accounts 30 days or more in arrearages through September 30th.