Virginia introduces Clean Energy Choice Act


US Senator for the state of Virginia Jeremy McPike and Delegate Mike Mullin have introduced the Clean Energy Choice Act, which will ensure that competitive suppliers continue to deliver renewable power to customers with strict oversight by the State Corporation Commission (SCC).

This 100% renewable purchase option is currently being threatened by a controversial application by utility Dominion Energy’s pending application for a 100% renewable energy product which could shut down sales by competitive suppliers to new customers under Section 56-577 A 5 (“Section A 5”) of the Virginia code.

The Clean Energy Choice Act will allow both competitive suppliers and Dominion Energy to offer renewable products to all customers and will allow customers to more easily combine the usage of multiple locations for renewable energy, giving businesses more options for a holistic energy solution. Lastly, the SCC will be empowered to review and remove licenses of unscrupulous market participants and to provide tools to customers to help them select a licensed Competitive Service Provider.

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“The Clean Energy Choice Act will protect choice and encourage renewable energy development for the benefit of the millions of customers and ratepayers across Virginia,” said Senator Jeremy McPike.

“If we’re serious about achieving 100% clean energy in Virginia by 2050, we’ve got to take steps like this that enable customers to switch to clean energy.”

“Virginia’s energy policies should promote choice and clean energy development, but the reality is choice is limited and affordable clean energy development has not been a priority of our utilities,” said Delegate Mike Mullin.

“It’s no surprise that Virginia customers of all sizes are asking the General Assembly for the ability to shop for clean energy. We should be promoting more ways to purchase clean energy, not fewer.”

“Virginia energy customers, large and small, are demanding clean energy at fair prices,” said Karen Schaufeld, who leads renewable energy advocacy group Powered by Facts.

“The Clean Energy Choice Act includes modest but impactful improvements to existing law that will allow for the renewable retail electricity options businesses and residential consumers want.”

“Clean energy is our future, and it’s time to lift the restrictions that stand in the way of seeing that future realized. The Clean Energy Choice Act will expand options for individuals and large customers to shop competitively for clean energy, level the playing field between large and small providers, and create an incentive for companies to develop true carbon-free, renewable energy. In turn, Virginia will grow its clean energy economy, while reducing carbon pollution and safeguarding clean air,” said Danielle Simms, Interim Political Director, Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

“The Clean Energy Choice Act will help grow Virginia’s clean energy market to meet the Commonwealth’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050 by giving Virginians more options when it comes to shopping for renewable energy,” said Ronald Cerniglia, Director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs for Direct Energy. “Since September 18th, customers representing all sectors of the business community have committed to an astounding 200 MWs of 100% clean power from Direct Energy Business, demonstrating that customers want an alternative to the existing and pending products offered by the utility. We have been working alongside the Virginia legislature, regulators, and other key stakeholders for several years to create an energy market that gives customers more renewable energy choices, and the Clean Energy Choice Act is an important step towards giving Virginians a robust energy market.”

In May of 2019, Dominion Energy filed its Rider TRG proposal seeking expedited approval as a Section A 5 tariff that would eliminate renewable sales by competitive suppliers like Direct Energy to new customers, even though Dominion Energy is proposing to charge a premium for a product that includes biomass co-fired from a coal plant and hydropower that is over 60 years old.

After the SCC chose not to expedite its consideration of Rider TRG, Dominion Energy then unilaterally halted sales of renewable supply by competitor Direct Energy and asked the SCC to issue a declaratory judgment sanctioning its behaviour based on a standard that had never been established by the SCC. In September of 2019, the SCC expeditiously rejected Dominion Energy’s declaratory judgment petition and ordered the utility to stop blocking customer purchases of competitive renewable supply.

Today, customers representing over 200 MWs of power have chosen to purchase 100% renewable power from Direct Energy Business. However, absent passage of this legislation, future sales to new customers may be eliminated if the SCC issues a final order approving the Rider TRG proposal in 2020.