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 Virginia Lawmakers Move to Dismantle Energy Monopoly

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Virginia Lawmakers Move to Dismantle Energy Monopoly  Vide
PostSubject: Virginia Lawmakers Move to Dismantle Energy Monopoly    Virginia Lawmakers Move to Dismantle Energy Monopoly  Icon_minitimeThu Jan 09, 2020 10:58 pm

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Virginians have few options when it comes to how they power their homes. Whether it’s Dominion Energy, Appalachian Power or a handful of co-ops and municipal providers, consumers are restricted regionally by who can sell them electricity, a system that’s evolved over decades with the blessing of state lawmakers.

Virginia Lawmakers Move to Dismantle Energy Monopoly  Virginia-dems

But over the last few years, things have soured between Virginians, legislators and the power companies. Now, with Democrats in full control of the state government for the first time in decades, new efforts are emerging that could change the way citizens buy their energy.
Delegates Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, and Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, have joined forces on a piece of legislation they believe would benefit the consumer by opening up the state as a free market for energy.
“[This bill] is a way for us to make our state and law catch up with the marketplace and what’s been happening [in other states] for years,” Keam said in a briefing room at the Virginia General Assembly building Tuesday morning.
He compared the lack of innovation power suppliers have offered Virginians to the way we make phone calls. As phone companies and the products and services they offer have changed, “the one area that has not changed is how we produce energy, how we deliver energy and how the consumer uses it and the carbon it creates,” Keam said.
Ware called the 2020 legislative session “a time of new opportunity.”
“I’ve seen just how much is available in terms of innovation so this is about recognizing where we are and what spaces there are to take advantage,” Ware said.
The two legislators have introduced the Virginia Energy Reform Act, a bill that, although not published in the official record yet, aims to create a competitive market for electricity retailers monitored by a state-run nonprofit. It would also push the burden of maintaining the distribution system onto existing monopolies, and install additional utilities for low-income consumers.
“We used to make these hand signals to represent when we were [passing legislation] for the ordinary Virginian, the little person,” Ware said as he formed a small gap between his index finger and thumb. “I think this bill does that.”
This isn’t the first time legislators from opposing sides of the isle have found common ground on the issue of energy. Spats over Dominion’s request for rate freezes and other legislative efforts the utilities have sought over the last three years proved to be an eye-opening experience for Keam, Ware and others.
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