Virginia’s investor-owned utilities are resisting the development of cleaner energy and imposing higher than average rates on their customers, according to the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition (VERC). This new coalition is aimed towards breaking up the monopoly held by Dominion Energy and Appalachian Energy in different parts of the state. While the utilities argue that the group’s claims are unfounded, VERC is receiving growing support from the corporate world.
VERC consists of nine member organizations with a broad range of political views. These organizations include the Virginia Poverty Law Center, which advocates on behalf of low-income ratepayers, to the libertarian Freedom Works group headed by former Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. But while they all hold very different views on almost every political topic, these organizations have united under the slogan “It’s time to take back our Dominion.”
The coalition wants to end Dominion’s monopoly on retail electricity supply and power production. According to VERC, only control over transmission and distribution networks should be retained. VERC members also argue that the changes would establish a more competitive marketplace, encourage a shift towards clean energy and modern technology, and reduce Dominion’s influence over the legislative process. “The current system is built around a fundamental imbalance,” explains Brennan Gilmore, executive director of the liberal organization Clean Virginia. “Our utilities have taken advantage of Virginians to protect their privileged and lucrative monopolies.”