Toppling Monopolies: Dominion Challenged Before Virginia SCC

On November 21 & 22, 2019, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) held a two-day hearing to evaluate the validity of Dominion Energy of Virginia’s proposed Rider TRG. If approved, Rider TRG would expand Dominion’s monopoly and allow it to provide its own 100% renewable electricity product within its Virginian territories–putting an end to the competitive electric market in these territories.

Rider TRG seeks to impose a minimum 3.6% premium on the purchase of all 100% renewable energy by participating Virginian customers. This premium contrasts with the current savings, as high as 17%, now being achieved in the competitive market by TPI clients. Advocates on behalf of Rider TRG’s denial cited TPI’s submission before the SCC noting these savings, asking Dominion’s witnesses to justify the inclusion of a premium pricing model when savings were easily achievable in the competitive market – a question Dominion was unable to answer.

TPI, alongside a full roster of opponents, including Walmart, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, City of Alexandria, Virginia, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and Advanced Energy Economy, argued in favor of not approving TRG. Only Dominion appeared to argue in favor of Rider TRG’s approval. Dominion asserted various arguments, such as Rider TRG’s approval being in the public’s interest, parallels to Appalachian Power Company’s (APCo) Rider WWS (approved in January, 2019), and Rider TRG’s pricing scheme, including the premium pricing, being just and reasonable.

Opponents of Rider TRG stood in unified opposition, asserting that Rider TRG is not in the public’s best interest, especially where no members of the public appeared in support of Rider TRG and its principles. Opponents further argued that Rider TRG is wholly unlike APCo’s Rider WWS due to, among many other things, its premium-included pricing scheme and inclusion of non-renewable generation sources, such coal-burning and wood-burning power plants. Challengers’ arguments concluded by noting that Rider TRG’s pricing scheme is not just and reasonable, as required by the SCC from the APCo WWS decision.

A common theme developed throughout the course of the hearings: why would it be in the public’s interest to approve Rider TRG when there was no public showing of its support? Especially when so many businesses and communities actively advocated against Rider TRG? Dominion’s Counsel and witnesses were unable to answer this question.

Last week’s hearings mark an important step in securing the most favorable outcome for Virginian customers–the ability to purchase 100% renewable energy at the best available price through the competitive market. TPI extends its greatest appreciation of the hard work and undying efforts of all parties fighting in opposition to Rider TRG’s approval.

Closing briefs from the parties are to be submitted on or before December 20, 2019. Decision from the Commission is anticipated in the weeks that follow.

A link to the Commission’s docket and TPI’s submissions in the case can be found HERE.

Please contact us if you are interested in affordable, renewable energy, or if you simply want to know more about how TPI is helping Virginia customers!

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