Virginia Electricity Utility Overhaul Challenged as Unconstitutional

Apr 4, 2018

Credit Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - State regulators are questioning whether a new electric utility overhaul recently approved by lawmakers may be unconstitutional.

The State Corporation Commission issued a ruling Monday raising the possibility that a new utility-backed law may unfairly disadvantage out-of-state renewable projects in violation of the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause.

The commission did not rule either way on the issue, but its question may signal future legal challenges for the new law when it goes into effect this summer. The SCC's comments were part of an order denying Appalachian Power's request to raise rates in order to acquire out-of-state wind farms.

The new law makes it easier for utilities to build renewable energy projects and improve the electric grid but could lead to substantial new additions to most Virginians' electric bills.