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Posted May 2, 2012 | comments 1 Comment

Dominion Virginia Power says bills to drop

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

Most Dominion Virginia Power residential customers could see lower electric bills by the end of the summer, the utility reported Wednesday.

Dominion credits lower fuel and transmission costs, as well as the mild winter and early spring for the reduction, according to a press release.

However, the utility foresees the reduction as helping to counter several, smaller increases planned for the coming months, according to Le-Ha Anderson, manager for media and community relations with Dominion.

"The bill is going adjust between now and Sept. 1 and those adjustments are going to be some increases and some decreases," Anderson said. "By Sept. 1, when all of those go into effect, the net difference is going to be a 4 percent decrease for customers."

Dominion has submitted to the State Corporation Commission several proposed adjustments. If approved, the monthly bill of a residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours would decrease from an estimated $110.24 this month to $105.90 on Sept. 1, or 3.9 percent, according to the release.

The typical residential bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours on Sept. 1 would fall below what customers paid Jan. 1, 2009, according to Dominion.

The utility has approximately 13,600 customers in Shenandoah County, 33 in Page County, one in Rappahannock County and 23,750 in Rockingham County, according to Anderson.

The utility has proposed to the SCC two decreases, the larger of which would result in a reduction of $5.83 in the monthly bills of its typical Virginia residential customer, the release states. The utility reports the proposal comes as a result of lower-than-expected prices for the fuel used to general electricity, along with mild weather and equipment performance.

The decrease in the fuel rate, if approved, would mark the fifth such reduction in three years and the largest single cut since 1998, according to to Dominion.

However, the proposal to lower the levies charged to customers comes only after "three small rate increases," the release notes.

  • An increase this month of an estimated 34 cents to cover the costs of energy efficiency programs already approved by the SCC.
  • An increase of $1.32 once the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County begins commercial operations, forecast to occur this summer. The SCC split the April 2012-March 2013 rate year for the clean coal-technology and biomass power station to begin recovering operating costs when the station enters commercial service. The typical monthly bill initially was reduced in April by 31 cents to recover pre-commercial service financing costs for the power station.
  • An increase of $2.84 on Aug. 1 with the expiration of a credit to customers that was a result of the SCC's review of base rates. The credit has been applied to customers' bills since February.
  • A proposed decrease of $2.67 on Sept. 1 because of changes to transmission-related costs.

The SCC already has approved the changes with the exception of the fuel rate change, Anderson said.

"It's really important to note that Dominion doesn't alter its rates, up or down, without the approval of the State Corporation Commission," Anderson said.

As Anderson explained Dominion passes the decreases directly to the customer.

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