Renewable energy providers win skirmish against Dominion, but larger war drags on

Renewable energy providers win skirmish against Dominion, but larger war drags on
The State Corporation Commission seal. (Source: Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Two renewable energy providers whose attempts to sign up Dominion Energy customers were halted by the utility in July won a victory Wednesday when the State Corporation Commission ordered the company to begin processing the enrollments immediately.

The order is the first decision by the commission in an ongoing battle between Dominion, Virginia’s largest regulated utility, and Direct Energy and Calpine, two competitive service providers seeking to sell “100 percent renewable energy” to customers including Kroger and Costco, both of which have joined the fight against the utility.

But while the commission’s ruling on the enrollments allows Direct Energy and Calpine to resume operations in Virginia, their fate will remain uncertain until the commissioners decide the outcome of a broader case determining what exactly “100 percent renewable energy” is and whether those companies are selling it.

That case, which was heard Tuesday, is a highly technical one, complicated by confusion over terminology (“This is just a mess,” one attorney involved was heard to mutter to a colleague during a break in court proceedings). But it is also a consequential one, watched on a national level, as an indicator of just how open Virginia will be to renewable energy businesses.