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State lawmakers meet with SCC staff

April 20, 2010
  • Delegates Don Merricks, Danny Marshall and Joe Johnson listen to SCC Chairman James Dimitri
Delegates Don Merricks, Danny Marshall and Joe Johnson listen to SCC Chairman James Dimitri

The dramatic increase in electric rates was a hot topic during the regular session of the General Assembly.

And it was back in the spotlight, as lawmakers returned to Capitol Square for Wednesday's veto session.

In the wake of a General Assembly session that saw concern and conflict over skyrocketing power bills, two dozen lawmakers sat down with State Corporation Commission staff to discuss Virginia's oversight of utilities including Appalachian Power.

"What's up to us now is to determine, is that where we want to be or do we need to build in some more consumer protection?  And I personally believe we need to build in some more consumer protection," said Del. Don Merricks.

"I have heard some things that I think we need to look at changing next year. I think there are probably some unintended consequences to the 2007 legislation," said Del. Danny Marshall.

While some lawmakers are looking for reforms during the next session of the General Assembly, others were asking why it's taking so long.

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"I hope they come to the table eventually, but why, what's the problem of reaching that conclusion now?," asked Del. Ward Armstrong.

Appalachian Power's answer, because the SCC is only beginning to implement the current law.

"We don't really have any basis, I think, for judging whether it's working properly or not," said Dan Carson, vice president of Appalachian Power.

The focus will stay at the State Corporation Commission for the next several weeks, as state lawmakers, Appalachian Power and its customers wait for the SCC's ruling on the utility's latest rate increase request.

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State lawmakers are meeting with the staff of the State Corporation Commission Tuesday afternoon in Richmond.

The meeting was scheduled during the recent General Assembly session as lawmakers reacted to Appalachian Power's rate increases, and considered whether the SCC needs more tools to regulate Virginia utilities.  Two dozen legislators, including several from central, southside and western Virginia, are attending the meeting.

News 7's Joe Dashiell is also in Richmond, and he will have more on the meeting and lawmakers' reaction tonight on News7, and here at www.wdbj7.com.

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