Category Archives: Virginia government

“We’ve Been Sold”

“We’ve Been Sold” This short film from Water Is Life. Protect It tells a story that has Virginians righteously angry.

Call Governor Northam EACH AND EVERY DAY until he rights this wrong. 804-786-2211

Call the Secretary of Natural Resources, Matthew Strickler, EACH AND EVERY DAY until he rights this wrong. 804-786-0044

Rural communities resisting the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines learned years ago of the corruption and collusion fueling these projects. But even they never dreamed our former governor, his Department of Environmental Quality and the developers of the pipelines would sink this low.

Join the call to our new Governor to right this wrong.

Virginia House Amends Utility Bill

On February 9, 2018, the Virginia Senate passed a bill radically restructuring how Virginia regulates monopoly utilities (Dominion and other minor players), allowing utilities to use excess earnings from over-charges paid by customers to build new electric infrastructure. Then, by incorporating building costs into the company’s rate base for which customers are charged annually, utilities could “double dip” by billing customers twice for these capital projects. (see Virginia Senate Allows Dominion to Regulate Itself)

But on February 12 the House advanced the final bill with a floor amendment that would prevent the utility from recovering the costs of the spending from base rates, which make up the biggest portion of customers’ bills. To the surprise and shock of the unamended bill’s supporters and of Dominion lobbyists, the amended bill passed the House, 55-41 with two abstentions, with six House Republicans joining all 49 Democrats to place a serious check on Dominion’s power mere days after their colleagues in the Senate decided to give them a blank check.

Read Huffington Post coverage here and Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage here.

Virginia Senate Allows Dominion to Regulate Itself; House Votes Feb. 12

On February 9, 2018, the Virginia Senate passed a bill radically restructuring how Virginia regulates monopoly utilities (Dominion and other minor players), allowing utilities to use excess earnings from over-charges paid by customers to build new electric infrastructure. Then,  by incorporating building costs into the company’s rate base for which customers are charged annually, utilities could “double dip” by billing customers twice for these capital projects. The legislation also fails to fully refund Dominion’s overcharges from 2015-2016. Currently, the legislation proposes that Dominion refund just $200 million of what the State Corporation Commission estimates to total between $327.8 million and $705.2 million in overcharges from 2015-2016.

On Monday February 12, 2018, the Virginia House of Delegates will vote on HB1558, a bill that will govern our energy policy for a decade. While Dominion and its allies have launched a propaganda campaign (funded by our electric bills) to hide its effects, the bill is unquestionably a bad idea for Virginians. Learn why here. Contact your delegate and urge that delegate to vote against Dominion.

Read Appalachian Voices’ op-ed for more background on the issue

In response to the Senate vote, Kate Addleson, Director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, released the following statement:

This bill would further erode the SCC’s authority to regulate monopoly utilities including Dominion Energy Virginia, and effectively allow Dominion to use their outsized influence in the General Assembly to regulate themselves. Giving Dominion the power to charge customers twice, or “double dip” on infrastructure projects effectively steals from Virginians, and hits low-income families the hardest.

Dominion is proposing to refund an arbitrary amount representing just pennies on the dollar of SCC estimates of overcharges from the years the refund freeze was in effect. The amount to be refunded should be determined by an SCC audit in a rate case, not by Dominion in the legislation they wrote.

While progress towards stricter energy efficiency standards and more clean energy is commendable, it should not come at the expense of ratepayers’ rights and sensible supervision.

Under this new scheme, refunds for Dominion’s overcharges over the first four-year period, no matter how high, are capped at a meager $50 million dollars. This is unacceptable: every dollar overcharged by Dominion should be returned.

The Senate’s vote today allows Dominion to profit from projects that Virginians will pay for twice, and leaves us footing the bill. If the goal is to end the “rate freeze,” then the General Assembly should simply restore government watchdog authority so they can force Dominion to treat customers fairly.

Learn About Dominion

Explore the new Web page from Clean Virginia and learn [some truths] about Dominion: “Dominion Energy is a public utility providing a necessary service to customers throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, and employs thousands of hardworking Virginians who keep our lights on. But unlike other public utility companies, Dominion’s primary corporate objective is to maximize profit, not the public interest. What this means is that Dominion has consistently made choices directly in favor of its shareholders but directly opposed to the interests of Virginians. As a result, our pocketbook, health, and environment suffers.”

Three Time Sellout: McAuliffe’s MVP Deals

More sellouts and secret deals. Blue Virginia’s new article, published February 5, 2018, Three-Time Sellout: Terry McAuliffe’s Secret Mountain Valley Pipeline Deals and The Smoking Gun They Reveal reveals that in addition to the ACP pay to play deal signed before McAuliffe left office, there were two deals signed for the MVP.

Jon Sokolow writes, “On Friday, February 2, we published “Secret Sellout or Pay to Play?,” a Blue Virginia exclusive. Our article exposed what until then in Virginia had been a secret Memorandum of Understanding signed in December by the administration of then Governor Terry McAuliffe with political power broker Dominion Energy regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. …. But Friday’s Blue Virginia piece was only half of the story. It turns out the full story is much worse. Because we now know that McAuliffe made not one, not two, but three secret pipeline agreements in late December. A second agreement, which Blue Virginia is now publishing here exclusively for the first time (see below), gives the builders of the Mountain Valley Pipeline the same full waivers for damage to Virginia’s forests and water resources as were given to the ACP. …. A third secret agreement, which we also now publish here exclusively (also see below), concedes that the Mountain Valley Pipeline “will result in an adverse effect to historic properties” and has the MVP companies paying $2.5 million (possibly a bit more) in return for – you guessed it – a full release from any future responsibility. But that’s not even the worst part of this story. For anyone who cares about clean and transparent government, for anyone troubled by the outsized influence Dominion Energy has over politics – and politicians – in Virginia, you need to sit down and take a deep, deep breath. Because the real scandal is what the Mountain Valley agreements, both signed on December 22, tell us about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline agreement that was signed six days later, on December 28. And what they tell us is this: Terry McAuliffe sold Virginia’s permit approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for $58 million in a blatant pay-to-play scheme.”

Read the full article by Sokolow here.

Then demand that Governor Northam (804-786-2211) and the members of the Virginia’s legislature – regardless of where they stand on the pipeline – immediately revoke all three of these reprehensible agreements.

Secret Sellout or Pay to Play?


“Did Terry McAuliffe sell out Virginia right before he left office? Or did he do something even worse? Did McAuliffe accept $58 million (paid to various entities) in a pay to play scheme to guarantee Virginia would approve Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline?

“In late December, the then-outgoing Virginia Governor, a longtime cheerleader for the ACP, committed the state to a secret Memorandum of Understanding with Dominion and its pipeline partners. This agreement, apparently never before reported in Virginia, let Dominion buy its way out of paying for damages to Virginia’s forests and water quality caused by construction of, and possibly by operation of, the ACP. And McAuliffe did this before the pipeline has even been approved – it still has not been approved – much less built.

“Let that sink in for a moment.

“Terry McAuliffe gave Dominion a full and complete release from any and all damage to Virginia’s forests and water from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Jon Sokolow, writing in Blue Virginia, exposes McAuliffe’s secret Memorandum of Understanding with Dominion, signed on December 28, 2017, by Molly Ward, McAuliffe’s outgoing Secretary of Natural Resources, includes the following:

  • Dominion agreed to pay $38,650,000 to three public and private entities, referred to as “Forest Mitigation Partners,” who are tasked with dispersing funds to others to restore or enhance forest habitats that are “similar to those adversely impacted by the pipeline. In return, Dominion gets a full release from any further liability: “The Parties further agree that such amount fully satisfies any and all mitigation responsibilities related to and otherwise fully offsets the direct or indirect forest-related impacts of the Project in Virginia.” This leaves Virginia without remedy if costs exceed damages!
  • In return for a payment of $19,200,000 (to a group of entities known as “Water Quality Mitigation Partners”), Dominion gets a full release for any damage to water quality: “The Parties agree that such amount fully satisfies any and all mitigation responsibilities related to and otherwise fully offsets all water quality impacts caused by forest fragmentation.” No definition of what those “water quality impacts” might be, no matter how much damage is done, as far as the state is concerned Dominion is off the hook!
  • Further, the agreement says, “this Agreement reflect the full extent of natural resources-related mitigation measures and investments contemplated for the Project by the Parties.” As Sokolow says, “That’s Dominion’s way of saying don’t ask us for another dime, no matter what.”

Note that there is no such release agreement in the North Carolina pay-to-play agreement between ACP and Governor Cooper. NC’s agreement says, “Nothing in this Memorandum shall be construed as precluding or otherwise barring the Governor of the State of North Carolina from recovering damages or equitable remedies from Atlantic for spills or leaks stemming from the ACP.”  McAuliffe decided not to extract this promise from Dominion.

Read the full article by Sokolow here.

Then demand that Governor Northam and the members of the Virginia’s legislature – regardless of where they stand on the pipeline – immediately revoke this reprehensible agreement.