WashPost: McAuliffe backs scrapping deal that protects Dominion from rate review:
By Laura Vozzella
RICHMOND — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Thursday said he supports scrapping a two-year-old deal that shields Dominion Power from rate reviews, saying the rationale for protecting the utility will be lost if the Trump Administration does away with the federal Clean Power Plan.
“The reason we did this, let’s be fair, I mean, was because of the Clean Power Plan and the increased costs that would come with the Clean Power Plan,” McAuliffe said in an interview on the John Fredericks Show, a conservative talk-radio program. “From what I read and from what I hear from Washington from President Trump and his new proposed EPA administrator, the Clean Power Plan is going to go away. . . . If we don’t have those increased costs because of the Clean Power Plan, then [protection for Dominion] should be off the table.”
McAuliffe (D) made the remark after Fredericks, who has been broadcasting his show from different locations on Capitol Square during the legislative session, asked him about an already defeated bill on the subject.
Proposed by state Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen (D-Fairfax), the measure had been aimed at undoing a 2015 law that froze base electricity rates in Virginia for five years. The law also shields utilities from rate review through 2019 while preserving their ability to seek rate hikes.
Dominion and Appalachian Power Co., the two utilities that supply virtually all electricity in the state, said at the time that they needed rate protection from the anticipated costs of complying then-President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The 2015 protection measure, the subject of a pending lawsuit filed on behalf of rate-payers, was sponsored by state Sen. Frank Wagner (Virginia Beach), who is running in a crowded Republican primary for governor.
Dominion is the largest corporate contributor in Virginia, having plowed $4 million into state-level races over the past decade.
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“I support Chap Petersen on this,” McAuliffe said.
His answer seemed to surprise Petersen, who was part of the conversation because his office served as Fredericks’s makeshift radio studio for the day.
“Oh my God,” Petersen said. “Thank you, governor.”
Dominion spokesman David Botkins said the 2015 legislation also prompted the company to make expansions into solar energy and should stay in place.
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