Delegates ask for review on utility rate freeze bills

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Several House of Delegates members would like the State Corporation Commission to review and report on bills concerning utility rate regulations.

According to a release, David Toscano (57th), Steve Landes (25th), Jeion Ward (92nd), Lee Ware (65th), Mark Keam (35th) and Michael Webert (18th) delivered a letter Thursday to the SCC Chairman Judith Williams Jagdmann requesting the review.

Several bills have been submitted to undo the "rate freeze" that was adopted by the General Assembly in 2015 and to create new utility rate regulations as soon as possible.

The release says the legislators are asking for information about how the bills would provide for returning "overearnings" to ratepayers as well as the implications the bills would have on setting base rates and approving adjustments.

"We need to ensure that the bills we pass provide for utlities' overearnings during the rate freeze period to be returned to the ratepayers," said Toscano, the democratic leader of the Virginia House. "That is why this bipartisan group has called on the experts at the State Corporation Commission to provide us with analyses of these bills and hold themselves ready to answer questions from the legislature."

The rate freeze froze utility rates and provided for investments in weatherization projects across Virginia.

The release says the freeze was instituted to protect ratepayers against the potential impacts of the Clean Power Plan, which was begun under President Barack Obama and killed by President Donald Trump.

"These proposals involve millions of dollars, as well as affecting how we will be encouraging development and use of renewable energy in the future," said Toscano. "We will be pushing the utilities hard on these issues."

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