Dominion's recent price hike is result of 'broken' system, say energy advocates

Watchful Eye

Dominion Energy got approval from the SCC to hike electric bills. As a result, the typical residential user, described as a customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, will see an increase of $14.93 a month, according to the SCC.

The SCC approved the price hike to cover Dominion’s fuel costs. Virginia law allows utilities like Dominion to pass along all of the increase for fuel that’s used to generate electricity.

Craig Carper, a Dominion spokesperson, said the company saw higher prices for coal, natural gas and oil, reported WRIC News 8.

Dominion experienced a shortfall of about $1 billion between July 2021 and June 2022, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch. The bulk of this recently approved hike is to help the company recover that money over three years, and the rest is to cover projected fuel costs going forward.

Dominion Energy already charges its 2.5 million Virginia customers some of the highest electricity bills in the nation, and this increase adds another economic headwind to working families who are already struggling to make ends meet thanks to a broken utility regulatory system, according to an op-ed written by Kendl Kobbervig the advocacy and organizing manager at Clean Virginia and Kidest Gebre, energy justice organizer at Virginia Interfaith Power and Light.

These advocates describe the system as broken because, “Instead of holding Dominion accountable for fuel costs, current rules shield the utility by allowing it to pass 100% of the costs along to its customers,” the op-ed says. And because the company doesn’t have to pay the bill, “Dominion has no incentive to make cost-conscious investments, minimize fuel use or transition to renewables.”

“And now that fossil fuel prices are soaring amidst global turmoil, the utility is only adding to the energy burden by forcing Virginians to shoulder those costs alone, leaving its profits, executive pay, and shareholder dividends untouched,” the energy advocates also wrote.

They believe Virginia should follow in the footsteps of other states where utility companies share the fuel cost risks with customers. But if Virginia doesn’t pass legislation to balance the interests of consumers and utilities, “Virginians will continue to pay the price for Dominion’s shortsighted planning,” Kobbervig and Gebre wrote.

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