Public Utilities Law

William T. Reisinger *

Over the past fifteen years, Virginia has witnessed numerous fundamental changes to the regulation of investor-owned electric utilities in the Commonwealth—from traditional cost-based rate regulation, to experiments with deregulation, and finally to “re-regulation” of utilities at the Virginia State Corporation Commission (the “SCC”).[1] The legislature has also enacted various policies designed to encourage the construction of new power plants, energy conservation, and the development of clean energy resources. Almost every annual session of the Virginia General Assembly has brought at least one minor change to the Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act. This article explains, at a high level, some of the major changes to electric regulation in Virginia in recent years. It also discusses how the General Assembly’s new policies have affected retail electric rates and the development of new generation facilities, including renewable energy resources, in the Commonwealth since 1999.

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* Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General of Virginia; Distinguished Visitor in Natural Resources Law, Appalachian School of Law. Any views expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily represent those held by the Attorney General of Virginia or any other agency or employee of the Commonwealth.

[1].    When discussing “electric utilities” or “utilities,” this article is primarily referring to the two largest investor-owned electric utilities operating in the Commonwealth: Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power Company. Va. State Corp. Comm’n, Staff Investigation on the Restructuring of the Electric Industry 1 (2007), available at http://www.scc.virginia.gov/comm/reports/restrct4.pdf.