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RICHMOND – August 11 is the recognized day in Virginia to remind everyone of the importance of always contacting Virginia 811 (VA811) before you dig. Help keep Virginia’s underground utility infrastructure damage-free and our communities, business districts and environment safe by taking this important first step.
 
Contacting VA811 is a simple, no-cost process, with two convenient ways to do so. You can go online at www.va811.com for most digging projects; online service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You may also call 811 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding legal state and national holidays. Emergency notification service is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
 
Know What’s Below, contact VA811 before you dig and Dig with C.A.R.E!
 
C.A.R.E. means:
 
·       Contact VA811 before you dig.
·       Allow the required time for marking.
·       Respect and protect the marks.
·       Excavate carefully.
 
To learn more about “Digging with C.A.R.E.” and Virginia’s damage prevention program, contact the SCC’s Division of Utility and Railroad Safety at (804) 371-9980 or visit https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Utility-Railroad-Safety.

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Contact: Ford Carson, (804) 371-9141
RICHMOND – Property damage from Tropical Storm Isaias likely will raise many questions from Virginia policyholders, including how to expedite the processing of claims with their insurance company. If your home, property or business was damaged during that storm, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) encourages you to contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to file a claim or to find out whether your damaged property is covered by your insurance policy. The Bureau reminds Virginians that flood damage typically is not covered by a standard homeowners or renter's insurance policy.

Many insurance companies have special toll-free numbers for catastrophes that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provide those numbers on their websites. The Bureau also can provide assistance to consumers who have difficulty getting through to their insurance company or agent.

Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White suggests taking pictures of damaged property, saving receipts for repair costs, and protecting your property from further damage. Additional information may be found on the Bureau’s disaster readiness page at https://bit.ly/3gyPYlx. The Bureau also offers disaster guides for Virginia homeowners and businesses that answer the most commonly-asked questions about settling disaster-related insurance problems. They are available on the Bureau’s website at https://bit.ly/2XuGCzS  (homeowners) and https://bit.ly/2PqBxnJ (commercial property).

The Bureau’s specially trained staff stands ready to handle inquiries through its toll-free telephone number 1-877-310-6560 or by email at BureauofInsurance@scc.virginia.gov. Consumers may reach the Consumer Services Section of the Bureau’s Property and Casualty Division directly by calling (804) 371-9185. Consumer complaints may be filed electronically through the Bureau’s website at https://bit.ly/33A52vL.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is seeking written comments on regulations proposed by its Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) that carry out certain provisions of a new Virginia law designed to protect consumers from receiving surprise medical bills.

Surprise billing or balance billing occurs when patients enrolled in managed care health insurance plans receive bills for more than their plan’s cost-sharing amounts directly from medical service providers who do not participate in a managed care plan’s network of providers - often referred to as “out-of-network” providers.

Under legislation passed by the 2020 General Assembly and signed in April by Gov. Ralph Northam effective January 1, 2021, individuals enrolled in managed care health insurance plans cannot be balance billed in Virginia if they receive emergency services from an out-of-network provider or non-emergency surgical or ancillary (such as diagnostic and support) services from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.

The new law incorporates protections for consumers put forth by the Bureau in 2019 as well as adds further protections. Based on the new legislation, the newly proposed regulations replace those advanced last year and establishes procedures for an insurance company and an out-of-network health care provider to arbitrate disputes when they cannot agree on payment for a service. It also establishes qualifications for arbitrators chosen to determine payment disputes.

Additionally, the law sets forth consumer notification requirements for health care facilities and providers regarding balance billing and requires managed care health insurance plans regulated by the Bureau of Insurance to provide notification to enrollees regarding whether they are subject to balance billing and under what circumstances.

Comments or requests for hearing regarding the proposed regulations may be submitted by September 1, 2020, with the Clerk of the Commission, State Corporation Commission, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218 and shall refer to Case No. INS-2020-00136. Comments may also be submitted through the SCC’s website at https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply scroll down to case number INS-2020-00136 and click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

You can also learn more about balance billing from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.

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Contact: Ford Carson (804) 371-9141
RICHMOND – Since 2017, a free life insurance service has helped 2,127 Virginians recover more than $29.9 million pledged to them through life insurance policies and annuity contracts. The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance encourages any Virginian in search of lost or misplaced life insurance policies or annuity contracts to take advantage of the free Life Insurance Policy Locator, which is offered by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
 
“Using secure technology, the service enables consumers to obtain money that is rightfully theirs via life insurance and annuity contracts,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White, who noted the service has helped recover more than $878.8 million nationwide.

If you believe you are a beneficiary, or you are the executor or legal representative of a deceased person, you may use the free service by submitting a search request form and following these steps:
 
  • Gather as much information about the deceased person as possible, including his or her full name (along with maiden name, if applicable), Social Security number, date of birth, state where the policy was purchased, insurance company name, and the person or organization who sold the policy.
  • Obtain a copy of the individual’s death certificate.
  • Visit the SCC Bureau of Insurance website (https://www.scc.virginia.gov/pages/Tips,-Guides-Publications) and click on “Life Insurance” or the NAIC website (https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome) and complete as many fields as possible.

Requests made through the service are encrypted and secured to maintain confidentiality.  Once a request is submitted, the NAIC will then ask participating companies to search their records using the information provided. If there is a match, a company will typically respond to the person who submitted the request within 90 business days, assuming the person submitting the request is the designated beneficiary or is authorized to receive information.
 
When a life insurance company knows that a policyholder has died but cannot locate the beneficiaries of the policy, the company – under Virginia law – must turn over the policy’s benefits to the state’s unclaimed property office if those benefits are not claimed after a certain number of years. If you know the state in which a life insurance policy was written, check with that state’s insurance department or the office that handles unclaimed property.
 
To avoid lost policies, the Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians to:
 
  • Keep beneficiary information up-to-date.
  • Alert beneficiaries of the policy and provide them with the names of the servicing agent and the insurance company that issued the policy.
  • Place a current copy of the life insurance policy in a safe and accessible place with wills and estate documents, and ask the insurance company for an annual policy statement if one is not provided.

For questions or additional information about the policy locator and other life and health insurance matters, contact the Consumer Services Section of the Virginia Bureau of Insurance Life and Health Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit www.scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.
 
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Contact: Ford Carson 804-371-9141

RICHMONDJehmal T. Hudson  became the 36th commissioner of the State Corporation Commission (SCC) on Monday, July 6. Hudson was appointed by Governor Ralph S. Northam on June 9th to a vacant Commission term that began on February 1.

Before being appointed to the Commission, Hudson, 49, served as vice president of government affairs for the National Hydropower Association. For more than a decade, he served in a variety of roles at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), including director of government affairs.

Hudson earned his law degree from the Vermont Law School and obtained his undergraduate degree from Adelphi University.

The other two SCC commissioners are Mark C. Christie, the current chair, and Judith Williams Jagdmann. The Commissioners serve six-year terms.

Established in 1902, the SCC's authority encompasses utilities, insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, securities, retail franchising, railroad safety, and underground utility damage prevention. The Commission also serves as the Commonwealth's central filing office for all Virginia and foreign corporations, limited liability companies, general and limited partnerships, and business trusts that are authorized to transact business in Virginia.

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Contact: Ken Schrad 804-371-9858

RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved a renewable energy rate for Dominion Energy Virginia. It allows Dominion customers to voluntarily purchase electric energy provided 100 percent from sources of renewable energy.

Virginia law permits Dominion to design a rate that participating customers may choose to pay to receive all their power from renewable resources. As designed, the rate would charge a premium of $3.98 a month above the standard rate of an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, subject to annual adjustments.

Applying applicable Virginia laws, the Commission approved the voluntary renewable energy rider and found that:

  • The rate is reasonable for the purposes of the renewable energy product that is being supplied.
  • The participating customer is receiving a product that is provided 100 percent from renewable energy.
  • The tariff includes safeguards that hold harmless customers who choose not to participate.

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Case Number PUR-2019-00094 - Order Approving Tariff

Contact: Ken Schrad 804-371-9858

RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has set several conditions that must be met before the Header pipeline project proposed by Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) can be approved. One condition includes strict provisions to protect VNG’s residential and small business customers from being “stuck with the bill” unfairly for costs of the project.

In a preliminary order on VNG’s application to build the pipeline, the SCC found that the need for the project is driven by a single customer, a proposed gas-fired, electricity generating plant known as C4GT. The SCC said, “Put simply, if C4GT is built, we find that the [Header] project is needed.  If C4GT is not built, the project is not needed.”

The SCC found that C4GT is supposed to pay for the vast majority of the costs of the Header project. But, C4GT is a merchant plant. That means the owners of C4GT pay 100 percent of the cost to construct the power plant and have primary responsibility for approximately 95 percent of the cost of VNG’s pipeline project.

The SCC said, “As a merchant plant, C4GT may operate for some years but, if it becomes unprofitable, may shut down, as many other merchant generators nationally have shut down when they became unprofitable. So it is imperative that VNG's other customers not be left ‘holding the bag’ for the costs of the project should C4GT cease operating before those costs have been fully recovered.”

To protect VNG’s residential and other business customers, the SCC required several financial conditions that must be satisfied before approval will be issued.

  • C4GT must provide proof that it has a firm financing commitment for construction costs.
  • VNG must recover the costs of the project over the same time period for which it has contracts with C4GT and other large customers to receive the payments necessary to pay for the project.
  • C4GT must reconfirm all contractual obligations to VNG necessary to pay its share of the Header project.
  • And, VNG must agree to a strict cap on the costs that can ever be shifted to residential and other business customers.

The SCC set other conditions that must be satisfied, including compliance with all environmental requirements set by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The SCC noted that before the project could proceed, VNG would have to apply for and receive multiple environmental permits.

In addition to complying with conditions set by state environmental agencies, the SCC also required VNG to file additional information on environmental justice issues beyond that currently contained in the Commission’s case record.

On or before December 31, 2020, VNG is required to make additional filings with the SCC when the company believes it has complied with all conditions required before approval. Upon submission of such filings, the SCC will conduct an additional proceeding to address them.

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Case Number PUR-2019-00207 – Virginia Natural Gas - For approval and certification of natural gas facilities: the Header Improvement Project and for approval of Rate Schedules and Terms and Conditions for Pipeline Transportation Service

Contact: Ken Schrad (804) 3781-9858

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved a reduced fuel rate for Kentucky Utilities, doing business as Old Dominion Power Company.

Effective for service rendered on and after July 1, 2020, the fuel factor will be $0.02168 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). For a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month, it represents a decrease of $4.55 per month compared to the fuel rate a customer paid during the 2019-2020 fuel year.

The reduction helps offset a base rate increase of $9 million in annual operating revenue for Kentucky Utilities that was approved by the SCC on April 6 and went into effect on May 1.  The April order also provided for a one-time refund of $1 million to customers resulting from a reduction in the company’s federal tax rate that took effect on January 1, 2018.

Kentucky Utilities provides electric service to approximately 28,000 customers in Wise, Lee, Russell, Scott and Dickenson counties.

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Case Number PUR-2020-00029 – Application of Kentucky Utilities Company to revise its fuel factor

Contact: Andy Farmer (804) 371-9928

RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is offering the opportunity for public comments to be received by telephone on July 8, 2020, on issues related to the increased deployment of electric motor vehicles that potentially could affect the affordability and reliability of electricity services delivered to consumers by regulated utilities. The purpose is to gather information to inform future proceedings on the growing issue of vehicle electrification.

The Commission invites the public to comment on one or more of the following issues related to the increased deployment of electric vehicles:

  • Existing development and projected growth of electric vehicles,
  • Rate design issues,
  • Storage-specific issues, and
  • Issues related to public charging stations.

The Commission scheduled the public session to begin at 10 a.m. on July 8, 2020. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the SCC by 5 p.m. on July 6, 2020. Witnesses will be called by SCC staff on July 8 in the order in which they registered. Testimony will be limited to five minutes. The hearing will be webcast at: https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting 

Public witnesses wishing to provide testimony may pre-register in one of three ways:

  • Completing a public witness form for case number PUR-2020-00051 on the SCC’s website at: https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting
  • E-mailing the same form (PDF version on the same website as above) to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov
  • Calling the SCC at 804-371-9141 during normal business hours (8:15 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and providing their name and the phone number you wish the Commission to call to reach you during the hearing.

The SCC has already received 34 written comments from individuals, organizations and utilities addressing specific questions raised by the Commission in a March 24 order establishing the proceeding.

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Case Number PUR-2020-00051 - Order Scheduling Public Session
Contact: Andy Farmer (804) 371-9141‚Äč

RICHMOND – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant market volatility during the past several months, leaving many individuals looking for safe places to put their hard-earned money and still earn a return. The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) urges Virginians to use caution when considering investments in exempt securities offerings, also known as private placements.

A private placement is a security offering that is not required by law to be fully registered with federal or state securities regulators. Popular especially with start-up companies, private placements allow companies to sell stocks, bonds or other securities to investors without completing the rigorous disclosures necessary in a registered – or public – offering. Selling securities through private placements is generally easier, quicker and less expensive for the issuer than conducting a registered securities offering. Private placements often are riskier than registered securities offerings and may provide only limited opportunities for investors to resell them, so investors could have to hold onto them for longer periods of time.

“People may try to capitalize on headlines to prey on unsuspecting consumers,” said Division Director Ron Thomas. “Don’t assume that just because someone claims to offer a security with a valid exemption from registration that this is actually true. Keep in mind that even when a private security offering is legitimate, it may not be right for you. As with any investment, do your homework and thoroughly understand the risks and benefits,” he said.

Businesses raising capital through private placement offerings may have limited operating histories and modest revenues compared to public companies. These offerings are not reviewed by regulators and the people selling them are not required to provide as much information to investors as public companies are required to provide under securities laws. As such, investing in private placement offerings may be more appropriate for the sophisticated investor and less suitable for less experienced investors. Regardless of your level of investment experience, the SCC urges investors contemplating private placement offerings to use caution.

The most recent enforcement statistics collected by the North American Securities Administrators Association, of which the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising is a member, identified private placement offerings as one of the most frequent sources of enforcement actions by state securities regulators.

Thomas urges Virginians to protect themselves financially when considering any investment opportunity by doing the following:

  • Carefully review and understand all documents associated with the investment.
  • Ask for information about the company, its business model and its executives.
  • Be wary of “unique” investment offers or high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Verify whether the person offering the investment is properly licensed or registered, as well as whether they have any disciplinary history.

Virginians can do this by contacting the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising in Richmond at 804-371-9051 or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945. For more information, visit the Division’s website at www.scc.virginia.gov/pages/Securities-Retail- Franchising or visit the North American Securities Administrators website at www.nasaa.org/22284/informed-investor-alert-private-placement-offerings/.

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Contact: Katha Treanor (804) 371-9141
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