What’s in Store for Virginia’s Energy Future
By Commissioners Clinton Miller,
Theodorve V. Morrison Jr. and Hullihen Williams Moore
Yogi Berra once said that “the future ain’t what it used to be.”
While the storied baseball player made a second career with quips and
quotes about life in general, he could just as easily have been talking
about the Commonwealth’s energy market because the future is certainly
going to be different from the past.
After changes in Virginia law, the Commonwealth is moving toward a
competitive energy-supply market. As this market emerges over time,
consumers may have the ability to select from among competing suppliers
and make decisions based on price, customer service or other product
To make sure that Virginians are ready for the new energy landscape,
the State Corporation Commission has kicked off “Virginia Energy
Choice,” a multi-year consumer education program. It will equip
Virginians with the information they need to make informed decisions about
Thoedore V. Morrison Jr.
As we move to this new marketplace, it is important to first understand
what will and will not change. Currently, one company provides all energy
services — supply, transmission and distribution. In the future, more
than one company may compete to supply your electricity or natural gas,
thus allowing you to shop for the most attractive offer.
What will remain the same is your local utility company, which will
deliver natural gas or electricity to homes and businesses. The State
Corporation Commission will continue to regulate energy delivery, ensuring
that the safe, reliable service you have counted upon in the past is there
for you in the future.
Energy choice will phase in throughout the Commonwealth, with portions
of Virginia beginning in January 2002 and all areas by no later than Jan.
1, 2004. Yet, even before this transition began, Virginia had been working
to foster development of a competitive and efficient-energy market.
As part of those efforts, Virginia conducted pilot retail-choice
programs to test systems and procedures necessary for competition. These
programs, similar to controlled experiments, have proven very beneficial.
For example, the utilities and competitive service providers learned more
about how best to serve consumers.
At the State Corporation Commission, we learned more about making the
playing field level as competition develops. And those consumers who
participated had the opportunity to learn about making energy-supply
Hullihen Williams Moore
Virginia is working in other ways to pave the way for a competitive
energy-market. We continue to observe other states that are further along
in their energy-restructuring efforts. We want to avoid their mistakes and
build upon their successes.
It is also very important that Virginia legislators are monitoring the
energy- supply market. Legislators may amend the energy restructuring
legislation, approved by the General Assembly in 1999, if problems arise
or if needed to advance competition.
In addition, new power plants could enhance the Commonwealth’s
energy-generation capacity. Numerous new plants have been proposed
throughout Virginia. The companies building them will sell the electricity
from these plants into the new competitive market. The State Corporation
Commission is examining plans for these plants to ensure that
environmental and safety concerns are properly addressed.
Finally, a competitive energy-supply market works best when consumers
have the right tools to make informed decisions about competing offers.
The one-stop source for factual and unbiased information on energy
restructuring is Virginia Energy Choice. Virginians may call a toll-free
hotline (877-YES-2004) or visit the Web site (www.yesvachoice.com)
to learn what energy choice means for them or to request a complete
When it comes to Virginia’s energy-supply market, it is certainly
true that “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Fortunately, as the
competitive market gradually develops over time, Virginians may take
advantage of Virginia Energy Choice to help them make the decision that is
best for them when the opportunity to choose arrives.
Clinton Miller, Theodore V. Morrison Jr. and Hullihen Williams Moore
are commissioners of the Virginia State Corporation Commission.