Saturday, October 1, 2022

Regulators Approve Dominion Bill Increase for Rising Fuel Costs; Appalachian Power Also Seeking Hike

Transmission lines in Louisa County. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND — Dominion customers will see their monthly electricity bills increase as a result of rising fuel costs, with Appalachian Power Company seeking similar hikes on the same grounds.

On Friday, the State Corporation Commission approved the increase for Dominion, which went into effect provisionally on July 1. According to estimates, the average residential customer, defined as a household using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, will see their monthly bill increase by $14.93.

In its final order, the commission said it was aware “of the ongoing rise in gas prices, inflation, and other economic pressures that are impacting all utility customers.”

“We are sensitive to the effects of rate increases, especially in times such as these,” regulators wrote. “The commission, however, must follow the laws applicable to this case, as well as the findings of fact supported by the evidence in the record. This is what we have done herein.”

Dominion applied for the increase in its fuel factor, the rate levied on customers to cover the costs of purchasing fuel for power plants, in May, citing increases in fuel costs linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The company sought to minimize the impact on customers by proposing to spread its recovery of the additional $1 billion in fuel costs over three years, a recommendation the commission accepted.

Coinciding with the approval, Appalachian Power said Friday it intends to seek a similar rate increase that could raise monthly bills for the average residential customer by about $20.

The company is seeking to spread the recovery over a two-year period.

“We recognize these are challenging financial times for many people and families,” said Chris Beam, Appalachian Power’s president and chief operating officer in a statement. “We strive each day to keep fuel costs as low as possible, continuously monitoring energy markets for opportunities to purchase fuel and energy at prices that are advantageous to customers.”

The utility also said that its growing use of renewable energies such as solar and wind “is another step in reducing fuel costs.”

“As Appalachian Power adds more renewables, there is less need for coal and natural gas to generate power,” the company noted in its Friday statement.

Appalachian said that about 6% of the power used by the company’s customers is generated by renewables.

Under the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act, both Appalachian and Dominion are required to decarbonize by 2050.

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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