Late last week, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved Dominion Virginia Energy’s proposed 100% renewable energy tariff option. Rider TRG, 100 Percent Total Renewable Generation Rider, was proposed by Dominion primarily to close a loophole that had allowed customers seeking to purchase 100% renewable energy to contract with a competitive supplier, even though Virginia’s electricity market is largely not open to competition. Current statute allows customers of any size to contract with a competitive supplier for 100% renewable energy, as long as their incumbent utility (Dominion in most of the state) does not offer a 100% renewable tariff option. The approval of this tariff option effectively eliminates that ability.
Customers who have already switched to a competitive supplier to purchase 100% renewable electricity are permitted to continue competitive service, but only until the term of the existing competitive supply service concludes at which time they will be returned to bundled utility service. Customers who have contracted, but not yet switched to a competitive supplier under a 100% renewable electricity purchase agreement will no longer be allowed to switch to competitive supply, setting up potential contract terminations for customers who contracted, but did not complete enrollment. This ruling does not affect the ability of customers whose demand exceeds 5 MW to switch to competitive retail supply, regardless of the renewable content of the energy purchased.
Separately, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the SCC can consider the impact on remaining utility customers in determining if a customer may aggregate multiple, non-contiguous sites to reach the 5 MW threshold required to purchase supply competitively. The SCC had previously denied the petitions of several large customers seeking to aggregate multiple sites to exceed the 5 MW threshold and purchase competitive supply because allowing those customers to leave the utility was not in the “public interest.” In explaining its decision, the SCC highlighted the adverse rate impact to customers remaining on utility supply from the departure of the aggregating customers.
The Virginia legislature ultimately passed a bill allowing those customers that had petitioned to leave, however the bill was specific to those customers who had been denied. Going forward, the ruling makes clear that customers seeking to aggregate sites to reach the 5 MW threshold will be subject to the SCC’s review of the impact to customers remaining with the utility, which means the path to competitive supply will be challenging for customers with more than 5 MW of load spread across multiple sites. Customers with more than 5 MW of load at a single site are not subject to this review.