Virginia energy transition hinges on traditionally conservative state board

Virginia lawmakers are expected to fill an open seat this month on a state board that could determine whether the state becomes a regional leader on renewable energy, energy efficiency and grid modernization.

“The State Corporation Commission is where the rubber meets the road,” says Cale Jaffe, director of the Environmental and Regulatory Law Clinic at the University of Virginia.

Government agencies and the Legislature can lay out rules for pollution control and energy generation, but it’s the commission that has the power to say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ to related proposals by utilities.

Virginia’s Grid Modernization and Security Act (SB966) went into effect July 1.

“That legislation creates the possibility for clean energy wins, but doesn’t guarantee anything,” explains Will Cleveland, staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, an advocacy organization in Charlottesville. “The commission plays a critical role here.”

“The SCC exists to regulate the monopoly utilities in Virginia,” he continues. “But we have an odd tension here.”

Utility executives are required to maximize profits, but keep rates reasonable and service reliable for captive ratepayers, Cleveland explains.

Read more (Energy News)