The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would temporarily suspend the State Corporation Commission’s biennial review of Dominion Virginia Power’s base rates.
SB 1349, introduced by Republican Sen. Frank Wagner, was written with help from Dominion. It would freeze the utility’s base rates while preventing the SCC from reviewing those rates after the scheduled 2015 review until 2020.
Dominion would still be able to request increases for fuel and infrastructure costs. It has already promised not to pass along $85 million in fuel costs to ratepayers as part of its support for the bill.
The bill passed the state Senate 32-6 on Feb. 6 before clearing the House of Delegates 72-24 last week. Support and opposition to the bill were both bipartisan. The bill now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who can veto it, though under Virginia law the legislature may override the veto with a two-thirds majority in each house.
Wagner has said he introduced the bill to prevent rate increases that would occur due to coal retirements under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon emissions rule, called the Clean Power Plan. Wagner was among 11 senators who owned stock in Dominion, but earlier this month he told the Associated Press that he sold it because he didn’t want to be perceived as profiting from the bill.
State Attorney General Mark Herring (D) has come out against the bill, as have consumer advocate and environmental groups. The Sierra Club, however, dropped its opposition after Dominion promised to invest in 500 MW of solar generation.