Virginia Sen. Jim Webb sent a letter to the State Corporation Commission this week to raise concerns about the effect of Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed rate hike on low-income Virginians and small businesses.
“As you know, high electricity rates disproportionately affect low-income families living on fixed incomes,” Webb wrote in this letter to SCC Judge Judith Williams Jagdmann. “Furthermore, in this time of economic uncertainty, an increase in energy costs could compel individuals and families to choose between putting food on their table and paying their energy bill.”
Dominion Virginia Power has asked the SCC for the ability to increase its electricity rates by 18.3 percent to cover increased fuel costs. That would raise the average customer’s monthly bill by $16.61.
Dominion has said its fuel costs have soared by 200 percent in some areas. Under law, the utility cannot profit from fuel-rate increases.
“We share the senator’s concern about world-wide energy prices and want to protect consumers,“ said David Botkins, spokesman for Dominion. “Our proposal minimizes the impact and offers new budget-billing programs for businesses and puts $5 million more into EnergyShare to help our most needy customers pay their bills.“
Webb’s letter said he understood high energy costs have affected utilities, but said that many Virginians are having trouble meeting their everyday needs.
The SCC must approve the rate increase, which Dominion has requested go into effect July 1. A public hearing in Richmond is set for June 24.
Webb will be in Richmond on Friday to tour the Central Virginia Foodbank and discuss how rising food costs are affecting Virginians.