Anti-Competitive Provision Removed from Virginia Bill

July 6, 2023

On July 1st, Governor Youngkin of Virginia signed the Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act, HB1770/SB1265.

In its initial proposal, HB1770 and SB1265 contained language that would have essentially eliminated retail competition and customer energy choice. If enacted, such an action would have raised electricity costs for Virginians, stifled innovation in the state’s electricity markets, handed unjustifiably high profits to private electric utilities, increased carbon emissions, and further reduced the SCC’s constitutional authority to regulate utilities’ profits and rates. This move would have had devastating consequences for Virginia businesses relying on retail competition for lower-cost electricity.

However, a coalition of companies united in opposition of the original proposal came together to present a better solution. Although the stakeholders opposed the bill for various reasons, we commend the coalition for finding common ground and we applaud Governor Youngkin for working with REAL and the coalition to remove the language that would have ended retail competition.

Shay Reed of Costco Wholesale Energy, Utilities & Environmental Reporting team expressed the coalition’s discontent and the importance of protecting retail choice in Virginia: 

“We are continuously identifying ways to reduce costs and overhead so we can pass those savings on to our members. Energy usage is a significant operating cost and the ability to shop the competitive market, choose our energy supplier, and tools to help us manage our energy usage is critical to maintaining our business model.” 

Following is a statement from Chris Ercoli, President and CEO of the Retail Energy Advancement League:

Utilities should have to compete for their customers, and the swift response from Virginia’s businesses demonstrates how frustrated we are to see another attempt to reinstate monopolies and force customers to use one utility. 

Now is the time to reduce barriers to competition in Virginia’s energy market and encourage innovation in products for an affordable transition to a clean energy economy. In its original form, this bill did the opposite.”

We applaud Governor Youngkin for his efforts to protect Virginia’s limited retail competition market for electricity while enacting this bill into law despite the efforts from incumbent utilities to limit choice.” 

By working with REAL and the Virginia coalition, Governor Youngkin and his staff ensured that Virginia’s customers continue to enjoy the many benefits of retail energy choice. While Virginia’s retail market is already limited, its benefits include the ability to shop for electricity, choose a provider that best suits their needs, and protect themselves from increasing rates.

We believe that the Governor’s efforts to get this law right will protect the innovation and growth in Virginia’s retail energy market, which is crucial to the state’s businesses, customers, and economy as a whole. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure a bright and prosperous energy future for the state.

REAL Choice