Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Veto The Dominion Bill

We were going to put something together on the multiple problems with the bill hastily passed by the General Assembly to "re-regulate" electric utilities in the state, but someone else has already done an excellent job, so we'll just point you in the right direction.

To recap, Dominion Virginia Power, pretty much the only private electric utility in the state, drafted up its own bill to "re-regulate" itself. After minimal study and virtually no public input, Dominion managed to ram the bill through the General Assembly, which was consumed with the transportation issue.

It's a bad bill. We can, and should, do much better, and we have time, as deregulation doesn't kick in until 2010. We urge Governor Kaine to veto the bill and set up a task force, study group--whatever you want to call it--to work with Dominion reps on a more balanced comprehensive bill that can be introduced next year.

Here are links to a three-part series on why the Dominion bill is bad for the environment, bad for consumers and bad for the state's political system.

1. Bad for the environment.

2. Bad for consumers.

3. Bad for political system.


Anonymous said...

Last month the once-a-week Fauquier Times-Democrat ran three opinion articles regarding re-regulation.

The first was a letter from the CEO of Dominion, Tom Farrell http://www.timescommunity.com/site/tab2.cfm?newsid=17876530&BRD=2553&PAG=461&dept_id=506071&rfi=6

The 2nd was from Del. Clay Athey, who was a big advocate against Dominion's 500kv proposal, and who also opposed the re-reg bill. http://www.timescommunity.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17876525&BRD=2553&PAG=461&dept_id=576934&rfi=8

The third takes a middle ground of sorts, written by yours truly:


From the recent articles in Times Community Newspapers about Dominion Virginia Power - including coverage of lawsuits, legislative actions at the state assembly, monetary contributions to legislators, underground and alternative transmission lines - I believe that addressing our area's energy matters will involve a widespread, cooperative effort.

A legislative bill in favor of re-regulation will likely increase the rate consumers pay for each kilowatt of electricity, which Dominion says they need in order to properly power Virginia.

That's OK as long as Virginians are guaranteed the existing power grid will be more efficient, consumers are encouraged to conserve, generation capacity is distributed with lower emission generators on a smaller and wider scale and technology is implemented to enhance the existing infrastructure.

These measures will decrease the amount of electricity people consume from electric utility providers like Dominion.

In part, these solutions can defuse the need for more transmission lines and power plants - which Dominion profits from the most - but which the majority of the public staunchly opposes.

However, since these solutions require money and typically reduce overall revenue, Dominion has no financial incentive to implement them. While reregulation will increase the rate consumers will pay for every kilowatt, increases in electricity bills can be offset by these improvements, which will reduce overall consumption.

However, this philosophy should not end with the state of Virginia.

Since the U.S. Department of Energy seeks to run transmission lines through sections of Virginia with a special corridor status backed with federal eminent domain authority, Gov. Tim Kaine and Dominion themselves should immediately ask the federal government to designate the heavy energy demand centers these corridors intend to serve, as "special energy conservation areas."

This sort of designation would give federal support encouraging the implementation of energy efficiency and conservation programs, distributed generation and technology upgrades on the existing infrastructure, before an extra high-voltage transmission lines and power plants are put in place.

Together, our government, the electric utility industry and the public combined can solve the energy issue we have today.

A good start would be for our state legislators to refuse financial donations from industries which have monopolies, for electric utilities like Dominion to ask the feds for conservation designation for heavy energy demand centers and for public citizens to install fluorescent light bulbs, programmable HVAC thermostats and smart switches on their electric hot water heaters.


MJG196 said...

I like A/C in the Summer.

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