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Dominion Energy Asks Regulators To Increase Its Profits

Dominion Energy sign on top of building
Dominion Energy is asking regulators to increase the profit its allowed to collect in Virginia. (Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Dominion Energy is asking state regulators to allow it to increase the profit it makes in Virginia. Critics say the move will increase electric bills that are already among the highest in the U.S.

In an application filed with the State Corporation Committee on Wednesday, the company argues utilities in other states are allowed higher margins. It asks the SCC to allow it to boost its allowed profits from 9.2% to 10.8% in its triennial review, where regulators examine the utility’s performance and financial standing from 2017 to 2020.

Dominion says the increase would help attract investors to finance clean energy and grid improvements called for in the Clean Economy Act. That law, passed in 2020, sets a target of zero carbon emissions from the electrical grid by 2045. 

In filing, the company notes its service through severe storms had earned national recognition. And it says its customers get a good deal.

“The typical Dominion Energy Virginia residential customer’s rates are currently about 35% lower than the average among other states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and more than 8% below the national average,” the report says.

Critics of the utility say those numbers don’t tell the full story. Virginia residents had the sixth highest monthly electric bills in the U.S. in 2019, according to data collected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Still, high energy use played into that number; in 2019, Virginians paid about $0.12 per kilowatt hour, a figure that sits a cent below the national average.

The advocacy group Clean Virginia said customers would immediately see higher bills if the increase is approved. In a statement, it claimed the company appeared to use “every accounting trick in the book” to take money from customers.

“Dominion has gotten away with ripping off families and small businesses and pocketing money that should be refunded back to customers — and now it wants more,” said Brennan Gilmore, Executive Director of the group.

The SCC will review the company’s performance and financials over the coming months before issuing a ruling in November. An August 2020 reportfrom the SCC found Dominion overcharged customers by around $500 million in 2017 and 2018. 

Editor's note: A prior version of this article mistakenly suggested Dominion's reference to its rates in its SCC report referred only to its base rates rather than its overall rates; the story has been updated.  This article also was updated to include more clarity on the EIA's figures for electricity rates.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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