RICHMOND — Without opposition, the House of Delegates voted today to eliminate financial incentives that Virginia’s investor-owned electric utilities have received for using renewable energy, advancing an agreement worked out between the utilities and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli’s office produced a report in November which concluded that the renewable energy incentives contributed to increases in customers’ bills without producing environmental benefits that were envisioned when the incentives were authorized in 2007. Eliminating the incentives could save Appalachian Power Co. customers an estimated $7.75 million annually through 2025, according to the attorney general’s office.
Cuccinelli’s office determined that the utilities have not built new renewable energy facilities to comply with the goals set out in a 2007 law that established a new regulatory scheme for the state’s electric utilities. Instead, the power companies have relied primarily on buying renewable energy certificates from existing renewable facilities, including hydroelectric plants that have been in service for more than 80 years.
After the report was made public in November, Cuccinelli’s office negotiated changes to the 200 law with representatives of Appalachian Power and Dominion Virginia Power. The legislation (House Bill 2261) passed today also will stagger biennial rate cases for the two utilities. That means Appalachian’s rate case before the State Corporation Commission will be pushed from 2013 to 2014.
“This legislation will significantly lower electric costs for Virginia businesses and families, while also ensuring the State Corporation Commission has the time and resources it needs to review rate cases of the utility companies,” said Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott County, the bill’s sponsor.
The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee unanimously endorsed a similar bill (Senate Bill 1339) today, sending it to the full Senate for a vote.
– Michael Sluss