Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly: Electric Utility Rate Review Bills

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about water-related bills in the 2018 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Two complicated companion bills generating much discussion in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly change the rate-review structure set up in 2015 General Assembly legislation for Virginia’s two large electric utilities, Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power Company (a subsidiary of American Electric Power).  The bills have water connections because energy use in general is connected in various ways to water use and impacts, and because these bills have requirements for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and grid modernization (including burying of transmission lines to reduce vulnerability to storms).

HB 1558Electric utility regulation; grid modernization, energy efficiency programs.  This bill passed the House 63-35 on 2/13/18; a substitute version passed the Senate 27-13 on 3/1/18; the Senate sustitute was rejected by the House and a conferenc committee failed to move the bill forward.  The bill was sponsored by Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1st) of Gate City.

SB 966, sponsored by Sen. Frank Wagner (R-7th) of Virginia Beach, passed the Senate 26-13 on 2/9/18; a substitute version passed the House 65-30 on 2/26/18.  The House substitute passed the Senate 26-14 on 2/28/18 and was approved by the governor.

The bill involves regulation of the Commonwealth’s two regulated electric utility monopolies, Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power.  The bill changes the review periods that were set in legislation passed in 2015 in response to the federal Clean Power Plan regulation, which the Trump Administration moved to rescind, starting in March 2017 (see the March 28, 2017, Executive Order at this link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-economic-growth/).  The bill also makes public interest determinations on three issues specifically relevant to water: investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency (including weatherization), and grid modernization, including putting transmission lines underground to protect against storm damage.  Please see the LIS entry (click on the bill number above) for a much more detailed summary of this complicated bill’s many provisions.


Click here for an excerpt from the February 8, 2018, discussion of this HB 1558 (the version at that time) in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.  The excerpt audio is 26 min./13 sec.  This excerpt was taken from video of that committee’s February 8, 2018, meeting, available online at http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00304/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2?fk=1179&viewMode=2.  In the video of the complete committee meeting, HB 1558 is taken up at about 3:27 p.m. (time is shown under the video) and the discussion of this bill continues for about 1 hour and 27 minutes.

News Media Items Related to This Legislation

With few remaining detractors, bill overhauling utility regulation advances, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/26/18.

Utility overhaul passes House, but with a big amendment to address “double dip,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, as published by Roanoke Times, 2/13/18.

Electric utility regulation bill advances in both chambers, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/8/18.

State regulators say proposed utility overhaul still limits ability to issue refunds, lower rates, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/7/18.

Bill to undo controversial utility rate freeze faces unfriendly panel Monday as Dominion-favored plan is developed, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/13/18.

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