One issue that’s moving through the
General Assembly this year involves our legislators considering whether they
should repeal, in part or perhaps in whole, the electric utility
deregulation law they passed in 1999. That law’s hope — a retail
electric market in which consumers would choose among competing suppliers
vying for their business — has never become a reality here in Virginia
(or, for that matter, in any of the other dozen-and-a-half states that
passed similar deregulation laws about the same time).
’s electric cooperatives have expressed concerns about deregulation for
several years now, to legislators, to our member-consumers, and to the
general public. Most experts now agree that consumers would be better served
by doing away with deregulation and returning to a system more like that
used in the past, with cost-of-service-based rates. In short, by regulation
redux; that is, by returning to at least a hybrid version of re-regulation.
This editorial is being written on
January 12, as this bill is still being drafted. By February 6, or about the
time you will receive this magazine, the bill — if it is still alive —
will be emerging from the House of Delegates or the Virginia Senate, or
perhaps both, and moving if needed toward a reconciliation between the
versions passed by the two bodies. If reconciled and passed by a floor vote
of each legislative body, Governor Tim Kaine will then consider the bill,
and either sign, amend or veto it.
Because of the General Assembly’s
relatively short sessions that alternate every-other-year between 45 (this
year) and 60 days, the road from Idea to Law is fairly short. But make no
mistake: This road’s limited length is not traveled easily or without a
considerable amount of input from interested citizens and a considerable
amount of thought by legislators.
’s 13 electric cooperatives are at the table as this bill is being
developed, and we will be vigilant in ensuring that any bill protects your
interests if — or, as — it becomes law. Delivering the most
environmentally responsible, reliable power at the lowest possible cost has
always been your cooperative’s mantra, our top job, and our main focus.
You’re both the owner of the business
and the customer. We never lose sight of that fact, and it guides us in
everything we do, whether at the State Capitol in
, at the U.S. Capitol in
, or back home in the communities we’re proud to live in and serve.
To stay up-to-date on this issue, please
refer to the 2007 Virginia State Legislative Guide pullout included in last
month’s issue. Your delegate or senator would be glad to hear from you and
to provide you with more information. You may also want to visit the
Virginia General Assembly’s Web site at http://legis.state.va.us/.
Whether this effort at re-regulation is
more like Back to the Future or Gone with the Wind will be determined in
just over a month’s time. But no matter what (to continue using the
parlance of classic movies), your electric cooperative will be working hard
to serve you and your neighbors wisely and well, From Here to Eternity.