SELC fights back against Dominion limits on clean energy access in VA

Installations of utility-scale solar continue like this one in North Carolina to increase across the Southeast. (© Alice Keeney)

As Dominion Energy continues to try reducing access to renewable energy from other providers, SELC weighed in against their latest attempt to expand their monopoly.

The question before the Virginia Supreme Court concerns the very narrow circumstances when large power users can contract with third-party providers, other than the local utility, for clean, renewable energy like solar or wind.

Currently, there are 3 ways customers can shop for alternative providers:

  1. Customers with peak demand above 5 MW can shop for any type of energy, but must give 5 years’ notice to their utility before returning.
  2. Customers with peak demand below 5 MW can petition the Virginia State Corporations Commission for permission to aggregate their demand and thus shop as if they were a greater than 5 MW customer.
  3. Customers may shop for 100 percent renewable energy, unless their current utility offers a state-approved tariff for 100 percent renewable energy.

Last year, one energy-provider, Direct Energy, asked the Virginia State Corporations Commission for clarity on how these regulations apply to new customers. The commission ruled that the 5MW+ power customers would not be required to give five year’s notice under the provision allowing customers to shop for renewable-only energy. Dominion appealed this ruling, which led to SELC intervening on behalf of Appalachian Voices.

SELC investigated the existing statues and the plain reading of them is clear: Option 1 does not in any way limit large customers’ ability to shop under Option 3.

Tuesday, SELC filed a brief with the court to this effect, also highlighting the state’s legislative record supporting this position.

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