Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dominion Virginia Power: Regulators, Mount Up!

Am I the first person to ever compare Dominion Virginia Power to Warren G? Can we call Guiness Book of World Records for a ruling on this one?

The Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation to "re-regulate" Dominion, granting it wide latitude to set power rates and allowing it to build new coal-fired power plants, with only weak measures to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation. A recent editorial details just how quickly and mysteriously it's moved through the General Assembly.

Here's why the Virginia Conservation Network opposes the legislation:
* No other state in America has a plan as generous to utilities as SB1416 and HB3068! These bills guarantee electric utilities a huge profit margin and encourage them to build dirty and dangerous power plants.

* Rates will go up to build unnecessary power plants and power lines that will only make the environment dirtier, increase the effects of global warming, and cost constituents billions more when greenhouse gas reductions are mandated.

* Power companies should be required to invest in energy efficiency and conservation programs before being allowed to build more destructive power plants. Programs such as a systems benefit fund, net metering, home weatherization programs, and other energy savings measures will reduce your power bill and help reduce the impacts of global warming.

* The General Assembly has not had time to properly consider a law that would affect every Virginian. The Legislature should carry over the matter to the next session to allow careful consideration – there is no urgency for this bill to pass this year.

* There has been no objective analysis on the impact to ratepayers. This law could increase rates for all Virginian consumers including business and industry - no one knows by how much.

* Rates are not tied to inflation; they are tied to Dominion’s spending, yet let profit flow freely.
So why has such questionable legislation moved so smoothly through the legislature? Money:
Dominion, however, had access and investment in its favor. The Richmond-based utility is among the largest corporate donors to Virginia politics, accounting for nearly $3.8 million in campaign donations the past 10 years. In calendar 2006, Dominion donated $209,000 to state legislators' campaign committees, and it dispensed gifts with an aggregate value of nearly $29,000 to 98 of the 140 legislators, according to campaign finance reports compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project and analyzed by The Associated Press.

Eleven legislators reported in their statements of economic interest owning at least $10,000 in Dominion stock, including Del. Watkins M. Abbitt Jr., I-Appomattox, who voted Monday for the legislation in the House committee. Norment owns at least $50,000 in Dominion stock.

One lawmaker, Sen. Benjamin Lambert, D-Richmond, is a member of Dominion's board of directors and owns more than $250,000 in the company's stock.

Take action now to tell Gov. Kaine and your legislators to oppose SB1416 and HB3068!
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