Dominion review could impact your bills

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A decision by the State Corporations Commission could impact your wallet. The State Corporation Commission is reviewing Dominion Virginia Power's performance and deciding whether the company should make more money.

The SCC regulates Dominion because it's a monopoly. It takes a look at its performance and profit rate every other year. Your power bill could go up or down depending on what they decide. This year, the company is asking for more money.

It's a lengthy legal process, that could take a week. Several Dominion officials explain the request and the Attorney General's office puts on a case for customers.

Here's how the decision breaks down: Right now, 11.9% of the money Dominion collects is income or profit for the company. Dominion says it needs more income to build new power sources and improve services. They're asking the SCC to raise their return rate to 12.5%.

"We're building new generation facilities all over the Commonwealth and we have to be able to compete for those capital dollars in order to make those investments," explained David Botkins, a spokesperson for the company.

If a higher rate is approved, it could mean an increase in your bill. We're told it would probably only be several cents per bill for the average customer, but it's a possibility not very popular on the heals of power outages following Hurricane Irene.

"People losing food and got to pay food and yet dominion still want their money for their electricity," said customer Thomas Corner.

SCC staff members proposed Dominion should make less money, about 10.67%. This would mean you pay less on your bill.

It happened back in 2009. Dominion retroactively refunded customers, and they saw a credit on their bills last year.

"You're getting a benefit, and then you think to yourself, it's ok," Stephen Previtera told NBC12 last year. "They're giving us money, so why question it?"

But, Dominion Officials say if the SCC does decide to reduce Dominion's proposal (12.5%), it could still end up costing consumers in the long run. They say Virginia is the second largest importer of energy and when the company imports that energy, it's more expensive.

"If there's not enough generation electricity, then we have to buy more expensive power out of state and import it," said Botkins. "And that's not good for customers."

That money could be added to your bill too.

Some customers say they understand the upgrades are necessary.

"I think the electric rates in this state are some of the best there are," said Sam Stefanik.  "I can't complain about the rates at all. If they gotta go up a little bit, that's the way it is."

The SCC considers factors like performance, operation, and finances while making this decision. A panel will consider testimony presented this week and make a recommendation come November.

Dominion representatives say you won't notice any change on your bill immediately. It probably won't come until 2013, because base rates have been legally established until then.

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