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Testimony: Dominion Virginia made well above fair profit

(AP) Dominion Energy earned more than $1.1 billion above a fair profit from customers in Virginia in a four-year span, according to testimony by State Corporation Commission staff, but customers aren’t likely to see that much in refunds.

The testimony was filed in an ongoing review of the utility’s books, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Sept. 20. But because of several state laws favorable to the utility and its stockholders, customers won’t see a similar return as a result of Dominion’s triennial review at the commission.

Commission staff found that Dominion earned a profit of 13.6% from 2017 to 2020, resulting in $1.143 billion in revenue above the fair return on equity of 9.2% established by law, according to testimony filed Friday by Patrick W. Carr, deputy director of the commission’s Division of Utility Accounting and Finance.

Under current law, customers should receive a refund of $312 million, according to SCC staff. For such a refund to occur, the three judges on the commission would need to make certain decisions and side with the staff recommendation. In an argument, Dominion Energy said the company did not earn in excess and the commission should increase its future profit margin from 9.2% to 10.8%.

Dominion is Virginia’s largest electric utility, serving about 2.6 million residential customers, and in exchange for a monopoly to provide electricity, the company agrees to a fair return under regulation by the SCC. If the company earns too little, the SCC could increase rates paid by customers. If it earns too much, the SCC can order refunds and rate cuts that are limited, however, because of Dominion-backed legislation by members of the General Assembly which have limited the commission’s powers.

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