RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Dominion Energy customers could soon see hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds and a lower electricity bill over the next couple of months.
After a months-long rate case involving Dominion Energy, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), the Office of the Attorney General and other organizations, an agreement has been reached. If approved by the SCC, it means Dominion Energy would send out $330 million in refunds on customer bills.
Dr. Lenneal Henderson, a public policy professor at Virginia State University, said it’s good the groups have finally reached an agreement, taking the interest of customers into account.
The refund would total around $67 for customers, spread out on electric bills over the next three years. $0.90 would be cut from your electric bill rate.
“That is intended to be spread out to overall lower rates overtime and provide people a little more benefit as they struggle unfortunately due to the impacts of the pandemic,” Dominion Energy spokesperson Rayhan Daudani told 8News in an interview Tuesday.
The agreement is a result of Dominion Energy’s 2021 triennial review of its finances between 2017 and 2020.
“I think what’s extraordinary is Dominion’s willingness to support the customers in this way by resolving this the way that they have,” Dr. Henderson said, highlighting that the rate case, which began in the spring, is one of the shorter rate cases he’s seen. “It’s in their interest and in the customers’ interest for them to resolve the rate cases as quickly as possible.”
Dr. Henderson said the rate case and agreement are part of a process public utilities operating as a monopoly, like Dominion Energy, have to go through to make sure rates stay as low as possible for customers.
However, Dr. Henderson said going forward he hopes prices for things like coal will not increase.
“What we hope now is that commodity costs for providing electricity will stay stable because the utility Virginia and Dominion uses a variety of sources to generate the electricity,” he explained.
But, Daudani said it’s something Dominion Energy is closely following. “We can look at nuclear energy, we can look at solar, we can offshore wind, coal, other fuel sources to make sure that we have a flexibility to keep costs low,” he said.
Attorney General Mark Herring commented on the agreement Tuesday, saying he “believes that this is as fair a settlement as possible under the existing law, maximizes the allowable rate cut, and will return hundreds of millions to consumers in the Commonwealth.”
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning Dr. Damian Pitt said he supports dedicating some of the excess revenue to things like offshore wind.
“I support the decision to dedicate some of Dominion’s excess revenue to offshore wind, which will be an important source of clean energy and economic development opportunities for Virginia moving forward,” he said. “I also support dedicating some of those funds to smart meters and a customer information portal, which are essential to developing the distributed energy resources necessary for a clean and resilient grid. However, Dominion has historically been unsupportive of those distributed resources, particularly rooftop and community solar. Therefore, I think there should be some strings attached, so to speak, to require the utility to make specific steps towards supporting distributed resources in exchange for allowing them to offset their excess revenue in this way.”
Dr. Henderson expects the SCC to approve the agreement, which will need to happen by January.
If approved, customers could see refunds on their bills about 60 days following the approval and a monthly rate reduction on their bills beginning in early 2022.