Mark Rubin, executive director of the Virginia Center for Consensus Building at VCU, was called in by Gov. Ralph Northam and Dominion Energy to moderate the bill’s compromise. Rubin worked previously with former governor Tim Kaine on similar issues.
“Mark is well-known for his experience and competence in mediating discussions on complex policy issues,” stated Northam spokesman Brian Coy. “He has also worked with many of the stakeholders at the table through the years.”
The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill changing how the state will control power companies Feb. 13. The bill lifts a rate freeze from Dominion Energy that has been in place since 2015 and opens the door to refunds for customers who have been overcharged.
Dominion Energy is able to keep parts of the $200 million set aside for refunds, however only if it is being used for grid transformation or renewable energy.
The legislation aims to create $125 million annually in savings from the new federal tax law, increase solar and wind plants and energy efficient programs and ensure oversight of the company’s utility rates.
The day before the bill was passed, Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) proposed an amendment that would prevent utility companies from charging ratepayers twice for projects they may be working on.
The House of Delegates passed the amendment in a sweeping 96-1 vote. The bill itself passed 63 to 35 vote with two abstentions. Toscano voted against the bill despite the fact that his amendment was included.
“The amendment passed yesterday made the bill much better, but substantial problems remain to be fixed,” Toscano stated. “I am hopeful that these problems will be fixed during the next step of this process.”
Logan Reardon, Contributing Writer