Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Recession? Dominion Wants Raises, Guaranteed Profits

"The sustainability of our economic development successes are dependent on having a reliable energy source," -- Delacey Skinner, Gov. Tim Kaine's communications director, talking about coal-fired power, March 31, 2008
I think of that quote every time I hear about how our continued dependence on coal-fired power is hurting consumers and businesses and leaving Virginians in the dark.

The only thing dependable these days about coal-fired power is that it keeps getting more expensive. And the only thing reliable is Dominion's guaranteed profits:
RICHMOND, March 31 -- Dominion Virginia Power is seeking to raise electricity rates 6.9 percent during the next 14 months to pay for equipment, salaries, plant construction and conservation projects. [...]

Dominion said incremental increases proposed for Sept. 1 and Jan. 1 will pay for operating costs, power plants in Buckingham and Wise counties and conservation programs. The increase also includes a 13.5 percent profit for the company and its investors.
Dominion: Global Warming Starts HereAt a time when Virginia businesses are laying off workers, Dominion is asking them to divert more money away from their payrolls and towards Dominion's payroll and profit.

The proposed 7 percent hike would be on top of the 18 percent rate increase we just got hit with in September. Oddly, the Washington Post article doesn't mention the 1.5 percent fee Dominion quietly added in January to cover the cost of the new $2 billion coal-fired power plant in Wise County. Compounding the rate hikes, it would be more than a 28 percent total increase.

But surely our elected officials will take a stand for consumers ... right?
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who does not have a formal role in reviewing the request, said Dominion officials informed him they would be seeking an increase.

"The SCC is a strong body with a great staff, and I think they will do due diligence on this," he said. "It's difficult because the cost of energy is going up."
Wow. Dominion wants to raise customers' energy bills more than 28 percent in the worst economy since the Great Depression, and all Gov. Kaine can muster is a shrugging "well, what're ya gonna do"?

Our continuing dependence on dirty coal is taking money out of consumers' pockets, costing Virginia jobs, stripping our natural resources, polluting our air, and warming our planet. Remember that the next time anyone tries to tell you we can't switch to clean energy.
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