Oppose Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative Rate Increase

By Joy Loving
Augusta Free Press, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021

Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative is proposing an unjustified rate increase that will disproportionately harm low income customers, those on fixed incomes, and those whose electricity use is low. If approved, the increases will make it harder for all customers to control monthly electric bills through smart investments in energy efficiency and rooftop solar.

SVEC wants the Virginia State Corporation Commission to approve a 20 percent increase in the basic monthly customer or ‘connection’ charge. Plus, it wants a new ‘demand charge’ that will further increase monthly bills for residential customers. The proposed increase is the latest in recent years for SVEC customers. SVEC’s basic monthly charge went from $13 to $25 within the last 18 months; SVEC now proposes to raise it again to $30.

So, SVEC customers would pay basic connection charges up to three to four times more than their neighbors who have electric service from other utilities. Dominion Energy customers pay a $6.58 basic monthly charge; neighboring Rappahannock Electric Co-op members pay $14/month. Neither has a demand charge for residential customers.

Approval of the proposed increase will mean nearly a third of the average residential monthly bill will be a fixed charge–one a customer can’t reduce through energy conservation or greater efficiency. Higher fixed charges give customers less ability to reduce monthly bills with smart investments in solar or wind energy, which create jobs and build clean, local energy in our community.

Extensive testimony to the SCC reports that about 17 percent (~14,800) of SVEC’s households would qualify as low‑income (meaning an average yearly income of $16,206). These households tend to be lower energy users. SVEC’s higher fixed charge would affect these members most, because their homes use the least energy.

You have an opportunity to stop SVEC’s proposal. If you’re interested in fair electric rates, you can oppose this increase even if you’re not an SVEC customer.

On Oct. 6 at 10 a.m., the State Corporation Commission will hold a virtual public hearing on SVEC’s proposal. Anyone can submit written comments through Sept. 29. If you sign up to testify at the hearing by Oct. 4, you’ll get five minutes to give oral testimony. You do not need to file written comments to speak on Oct. 6.

Are you interested in helping protect low income, retired, and low use SVEC customers? Want to send a message to the SCC about high electricity bills? If yes, ask the SCC to deny this rate increase.

  1. Make written comments at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/comment/PUR-2021-00054 .
  2. Make a five-minute oral comment at the Oct. 6 hearing. To do that, you need to:
  3. Fill out the Public Witness Form on the Commission’s website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting ; OR
  4. Send a PDF copy of a completed Public Witness Form obtained from scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov ; OR
  5. Call 804-371-9141 during normal business hours.
  6. Learn more—join the Sept. 15 virtual forum at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by Appalachian Voices; register at tinyurl.com/hcfpthbu.

Story by Joy Loving from the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley.

Action Needed To Combat Climate Change

Daily News-Record, August 19, 2021
Letters to the Editor: Andrew Payton

The release of the International Panel on Climate Change’s 2021 Sixth Assessment Report makes abundantly clear that bold action to address our climate crisis is desperately needed if we are to avoid increasingly strong heat waves, wildfires, and hurricanes, as well as crop failures, sea level rise, climate- induced migration, and economic damage. We as individuals and as a community have an obligation to act.

The single most powerful tool we have at our disposal is carbon pricing: this would be a fee applied to fossil fuels when entering the economy, which then provides economic incentive for low-carbon goods and behaviors like renewable energies, building weatherization, public transit, and local foods. Already about a quarter of the world has carbon pricing policies, including major economies like Canada, Japan and the European Union. A recently passed carbon border tax in the EU will increase the price of U.S. goods in Europe, meaning that if we don’t have a carbon price in place, it will become more and more difficult for our businesses to compete abroad.

There are many actions that we can take as individuals to lower our impact on the climate, but we are most effective when we put pressure on our governments to act. The U.S. government must take aggressive action to combat climate change, and carbon pricing is a simple and effective way to do this.

Andrew Payton

Response To Article

Daily News-Record, August 19, 2021
Letters to the Editor: Les Grady

Thank you for the article in the Aug. 16 edition of the DN-R (page A8) about the response of Europeans to the Sixth Assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC). The last part of the article was particularly important because it stressed how our collective actions, while individually small, can have a large cumulative impact on the climate crisis. As we seek to limit global warming, we all will be called upon to make changes in our lives, from reducing how much beef and dairy we eat to replacing our gas or oil furnace with an electric heat pump. How we respond to those requests will determine the kind of world we live in.

This IPCC report examined the physical science of climate change. In case you missed it, below are five takeaways gleaned from it by several sources I trust:

• For the first time, the IPCC stated unequivocally that humans are causing the observed warming.
• Our actions have warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in the last 2,000 years.
• Climate change is affecting weather and climate extremes in every region of Earth.
• Limits on average global warming of 1.5° C ( 2.7° F) and 2.0° C ( 3.6° F) in the Paris Climate Agreement will be exceeded this century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.
• Although temperatures are likely to continue to increase until 2050, there is still a window in which humans can alter the climate path.

Leslie Grady Jr.