Va. delegates chart course for - Smart Energy Decisions

Power Prices, Regulation, Utilities  -  January 9, 2020

Va. delegates chart course for competitive electricity market

A piece of bipartisan legislation that would end the monopoly control over Virginia’s electricity system and create competition in the market has made its way into the 2020 Virginia General Assembly session.

The bill, named the Virginia Energy Reform Act, was announced on Jan. 7 during a press conference by the bill’s sponsor, Del. Mark Keam (D), and chief co-patron, Del. Lee Ware (R). This would be the first major reform of Virginia’s electricity market in almost 15 years, where Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power own and operate all segments of a vertically integrated system within their regions.

This vertically integrated system includes everything including electricity generation, the distribution system of wires and power poles and retail customer services, according to a press release from the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition.

“I’m pleased to join my friend Delegate Lee Ware in introducing the Virginia Energy Reform Act, which would bring transformational reforms to our energy marketplace,” Delegate Keam said at the conference. “Over the past couple of decades, innovation and technological advancements have allowed consumers around the nation to choose when, where and how they obtain affordable and reliable energy. But in Virginia, we are stuck with a century-old business-as-usual model that benefits monopolies while suppressing competition and consumer choice. It’s time to reform the rules of the road.”

The bill would establish a competitive market for electricity retailers centered around choice and require monopoly electric utilities to exit the retail services and generation businesses. If passed, it would also establish a nonprofit entity to coordinate operation of the distribution system without a financial stake, while removing existing interconnection and financing barriers to customer-owned energy resources.

The current system of high-voltage transmission lines for wholesale distribution is operated by the multi-state, independent PJM and would not be directly impacted by the bill.

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