Press Release | June 15, 2022

Dominion threatens to charge customers an extra fee for RGGI if the emissions reduction program is not repealed

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Today Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) granted Dominion Energy’s politically motivated request to suspend its rate adjustment for an emissions reduction program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Dominion currently justifies an extra charge on customers’ utility bills by claiming that it is necessary to offset the cost of Virginia’s participation in RGGI. But Dominion admitted in its filing before the SCC that the utility never had to charge its customers that additional fee, and requested to eliminate it — proving it could have complied with Virginia’s emissions reduction program without increasing customer bills all along.

“Dominion is playing political games with customers’ wallets,” said Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Will Cleveland. “The law may technically allow a surcharge, but this filing shows it was never necessary. If Dominion really cared about its customers, the monopoly would have complied with Virginia’s carbon-reduction program all along without any increase in customer costs.”

In its filing, Dominion admitted that the flat, base rate it charges customers has always been sufficient to cover its RGGI compliance costs. Dominion deliberately imposed the extra fee on its customers when Virginia joined RGGI in 2020 because the law prohibits the commission from requiring the most customer-friendly cost recovery mechanism.

But the admission that Dominion is squeezing extra profit out of its customers is not the only alarming revelation in the utility’s filing. In its petition, Dominion threatened to reimpose the surcharge on customer bills if political efforts to repeal Virginia’s emissions reduction program fail.

Governor Youngkin has made use of Dominion’s prior politically-motivated filings to pressure the Air Pollution Control Board into an unlawful repeal of Virginia’s emissions reduction program by, arguing that the extra fee Dominion charged customers for participating in RGGI amounts to an “emergency.”

Yet Dominion has simultaneously filed a separate request to raise residential customers’ bill by as much as $24 per month to cover $1.02 billion in unexpected fuel costs due to the utility’s overreliance on coal and gas. That’s 10 times the fee that Dominion charged customers for RGGI — the same fee Governor Youngkin is currently using to justify repealing the carbon reduction program, though he has raised no such emergency concerns over the significantly larger fossil-fuel costs.

Dominion and the Governor have it backwards. RGGI reduces utility reliance on the same fossil fuels that are expected to cost Dominion — and in turn, its customers — $2.278 billion in fuel expenses in the next year.

“While Dominion and Governor Youngkin play politics with our electric bills, real people continue to struggle,” said Appalachian Voices Virginia Policy Director Peter Anderson. “Virginia’s participation in RGGI steers the Commonwealth towards a zero-carbon economy and helps low-income families save money. The faster we remove fossil fuels from our power sector, the less we will be exposed to the price volatility of coal and gas.”

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