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Virginia bill would bar ‘backdoor energy tax’

By   /   January 29, 2015  /   News  /   No Comments

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POWER SHIFT: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy proposes to swap fossil fuel power with intermittent wind sources in Virginia. A bill to be heard Thursday would put the state’s General Assembly in the way of that plan.

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

RICHMOND, Va. – Warning an Obama administration “Clean Power Plan” would sharply increase Virginians’ electric rates, Republican lawmakers want to put themselves between the Environmental Protection Agency and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Targeting both the EPA and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, Senate Bill 1442 would require General Assembly approval of any rules submitted to Washington by the DEQ.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission concluded that the EPA power plan “is likely to increase substantially the bills and rates Virginians pay for their electricity, and could impact significantly the reliability of the electrical service they receive.”

SB 1442, introduced by Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, would halt all spending by the DEQ until multiple lawsuits against the EPA are resolved. The bill would also require that SCC staff, not the DEQ, perform a complete analysis of the costs and effects of the EPA plan.

The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hear the bill Thursday.

Carol Stopps, spokeswoman for the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, called it “one of the most important bills of the year.”

Randy Randol, energy/environment consultant for the federation, called the EPA plan “a backdoor energy tax on Virginia consumers.”

According to the SCC staff, the proposed EPA regulations would:

  • Boost compliance costs for one utility — Dominion Virginia Power — by $5.5 to $6 billion.
  • Stick Virginia electricity consumers with billions of dollars in “stranded” costs for existing facilities that are forced to retire prematurely. This include recent investments in existing coal-fired facilities.
  • Swap 2,851 megawatts of fossil-fuel generation in favor of 351 megawatts of intermittent onshore wind power.
  • Impose substantially more stringent emission requirements for existing generating units in Virginia than the standard for new units, yet to be built.

The SCC report concluded that the EPA plan “incorporates generic and unsupported expectations of levels of renewable generation and energy efficiency that, when applied to Virginia, are extremely ambitious (and) almost certainly unachievable.”

Virginia would have little, if any, input regarding the compliance obligations for a substantial amount of out-of-state generation currently used to maintain reliable electric service at just and reasonable rates for Virginia consumers.”

Randol said, “The EPA has doubled down on bad policy. The existing power plant rule is in addition to other rules that will impose regressive costs on Virginia seniors and the poor.”

McAuliffe’s press office did not respond to Watchdog’s request for comment.

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent for Watchdog.org and chief of its Virginia Bureau. Contact him at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward




Kenric Ward was a former San Antonio-based reporter for Watchdog.org.