Executive director says: “SCC Staff agrees Dominion soaks ratepayers for a single client. Maybe not the first time?”
Haymarket, Virginia (August 8, 2016) – Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion) continues to push the risk and expense of private “extension cords” for individual large clients onto ratepayers according to State Corporation Commission (SCC) Staff legal briefs to the Hearing Examiner filed last week.
Coalition executive director Elena Schlossberg stated, “Sometimes, all you can say is ‘wow!’ The SCC Staff legal brief in the Haymarket transmission line case agreed with the Coalition’s longstanding position that this line extension benefits a single private corporation at ratepayer expense. Beyond that, Staff showed conclusively that Dominion is scrambling to keep Amazon from paying for its private extension cord – and not for the first time!”
“Staff’s language is blunt: ‘Were it not for Customer’s request, the Project would not be needed at all for the foreseeable future.’ Customer means Amazon,” Schlossberg continued. “Staff suggests the Commissioners use the Line Extension policy to offset the cost differential between an overhead and partially buried route, giving the Customer ‘skin in the game.’ Otherwise, staff notes, ‘the general public, already burdened by the environmental and aesthetic impacts of otherwise unneeded transmission projects’ could also be ‘burdened with 100% of the otherwise unnecessary costs.’ This is game-changing.”
Schlossberg added, “Dominion is so flustered at the prospect of losing ratepayer subsidies for private projects that the SCC Staff calls them out for trying to buy land for the required substation – a departure from similar cases which ‘may reasonably be inferred to be another attempt to avoid application of the Line Extension policy.’ Ironically, Dominion itself referred to the project in its Integrated Resource Plan filing as the ‘230 kV Line Extension to new Haymarket Substation.’ Dominion cannot run from its own words.”
Finally, Staff observes Dominion “has already constructed at least two transmission projects to extend service to new data center loads,” similar to Amazon’s request, “which have not developed as expected or at all.”
“This report shows that citizen input – and action – can exercise powerful influence. The SCC process is not complete, but the community should be proud of what we have accomplished so far,” Schlossberg said.
Schlossberg concluded, “This is bigger than a single case. We knew our argument was precedent-setting. We now know Dominion has a history of sticking ratepayers with the bill for single-customer block loads – and they are desperate to keep it that way. Frankly, I don’t know where this all leads. So many parties have an interest in stopping this pattern of abuse: the Virginia House of Delegates, the state Attorney General, the SCC, and potentially ratepayers as a legal class. The Coalition’s focus remains on the Haymarket case – while keeping an eye on other local threats to our county which some would like to slip under the wire – but we will assess what role we can play in helping to end Dominion’s duplicity for good.”
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