Probably just six of twenty-five power plants to be built in Virginia

Nov 27, 2001 01:00 AM

A representative of a group of independent power companies said probably only six to eight of twenty-five proposed power plants in Virginia will be built. "That's what people in the [power] industry expect to happen," said August Wallmeyer, a lobbyist for the independent producers.
Wallmeyer addressed a special General Assembly subcommittee that has been overseeing deregulation of the state's electric and natural-gas businesses. He appeared at the end of a discussion on the air-pollution impact of the proposed plants.
An advisory group to the state Air Pollution Control Board told the panel it had been unable to agree on the significance of the proposed plants on Virginia's air quality. The advisory group included members from the power industry and from environmental, health and economic development groups. Lawmakers heard criticism of a proposed law that would allow Virginia's 13 electric cooperatives to regulate themselves.

Bear Island Paper, the largest customer of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, objected to the proposal's lack of proportional representation for large consumers when members vote on whether to self-regulate. While consuming 29 % of Rappahannock's power, Bear Island's representation in the membership vote would be much less than 1 %.
Representatives for propane gas distributors and other businesses that fear competition from the co-ops complained about a lack of protection in the proposed law to prevent cooperatives from using electricity income to cross-subsidize other business ventures. A lawyer for the State Corporation Commission also expressed concerns about the workability of the proposed law.

A self-regulation bill failed to move in the 2001 General Assembly session. Under self-regulation, member-elected boards of directors would set the electric rates for the cooperatives rather than the SCC, which now approves rates. Eighty-5 % of the nation's electric cooperatives are self-regulated.
A complaint by one cooperative during the meeting about the money and time taken to have a rate case heard by the SCC prompted the panel's chairman, Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, to say he might offer legislation to increase the size of the SCC from three to five judges.
A consultant for another legislative panel, which Norment also heads, that has been studying the SCC had suggested increasing the commission's size to speed its work. That panel, however, recently voted to reject that idea. Legislation from Norment would be independent of that group.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.
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