Ruling Opens Electric Competition for Big Virginia Customers
By James A. Bacon, Bacon’s Rebellion – 3/29/2018
Direct Energy Services Inc., a Houston-based retailer of electricity and energy-related services, is allowed to sell 100% renewable energy to large customers in Virginia without a restriction that would forbid customers from returning to their incumbent utility without a five-years’ advance written notice, under a Virginia Supreme Court ruling issued this morning.
The Supreme Court decision upheld a previous ruling issued by the State Corporation Commission against Dominion Energy Virginia.
“This appeal is about the intersection of these two subsections: What happens when a mega-consumer wants to buy from a green-energy company? Does that switch trigger the five-years-notice requirement, or not?” writes Steve Emmert in his blog, “Virginia Appellate News & Analysis.”
The bottom line: No, it doesn’t trigger the requirement.
The decision follows an SCC ruling two weeks ago that allowed Reynolds Group Holdings to aggregate demand from multiple properties to meet the 5-megawatt threshold required to purchase electricity from non-utility suppliers. Together, the SCC and Supreme Court rulings expand the options for large electric customers at a time when cloud providers and other major corporations are making big commitments to solar power.
The 5-year restriction, writes Emmert, “was likely designed to prevent bargain shopping on an annual basis, something that can play havoc with VEPCO’s planning.” The proviso also acted as a deterrent for companies thinking about purchasing renewable power from a non-utility. If a company wanted to preserve the safeguard of being able to switch back to Dominion, Appalachian Power, or an electric co-op, the inability to do so for five years added an element of risk.
Says Emmert: “This is clearly a win for those who seek greater competition in this field.”