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Existing Customers to Retain Current Numbers; 826 Area Code Created

 

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) announced today that the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) has assigned a new area code to western and northern portions of the Commonwealth. The new 826 area code will relieve the future exhaustion of phone numbers in Virginia’s 540 area code.

The 540 area code region currently encompasses a wide swath of the state, including Roanoke in the southwest, Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to the west, Winchester and parts of northern Virginia, and Fredericksburg to the east. The area code was created in 1995, splitting off from the 703 area code. Current estimates predict the available numbers in the 540 area code will be exhausted in 2022.

The relief plan approved by the SCC superimposes the new 826 area code over the same geographic footprint covered by the existing 540 area code region. While 10-digit dialing will now be required for local calls, the Commission determined the overlay solution to be “more durable and/or less disruptive than other alternatives.” Under the plan, no residents and businesses will lose their current 540 phone numbers.

Following a series of public hearings held in the 540 region in early March, the Commission agreed with the findings of the SCC hearing examiner. The telecommunications industry also prefers the overlay solution, as this relief method is the least disruptive for customers.

The SCC’s order directs telecommunications industry service providers to move forward with a proposed 13-month implementation schedule. This includes a six-month period during which calls within the 540 area code can be completed using either 7 or 10-digits. This period is used to ease the transition from 7-digit to 10-digit dialing so customers can be educated on the changes without having calls impacted prior to assignment of the 826 area code.

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Case Number PUR-2019-00148 - Ex Parte: In the matter of the Commission’s investigation into exhaust relief for the 540 area code

Contact: Ken Schrad 804-371-9858
 

RICHMOND – In conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the State Corporation Commission’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) reminds Virginians that extended isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic may create a perfect storm for financial exploitation of senior citizens.

Each year, senior citizens lose billions of dollars to financial fraud, with the loss to individual victims averaging tens of thousands of dollars. “Social isolation has long been a leading factor contributing to the financial exploitation of older investors,” said Division Director Ron Thomas. “Social distancing and the unprecedented quarantines designed to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus have greatly increased social isolation for many seniors, making them more vulnerable to financial exploitation. Perpetrators may be strangers, family members, trusted friends and financial professionals or others.”

Financial abuse can happen any time, but perpetrators often strike when senior citizens are most vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some perpetrators even will exploit established relationships within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.

 

Thomas encourages Virginians to be aware of the following warning signs indicative of senior financial abuse:

  • Surrendering control of finances to a new or overly protective friend or caregiver
  • Fear of or sudden change in feelings toward friends or family members
  • A lack of knowledge about their financial status or reluctance to discuss financial matters
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in spending habits, a will, trust or beneficiary designations
  • Unexplained financial activities, such as checks made out to cash, unusual loans or disappearance of assets, valuables or securities
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents

In-person visits may not yet be possible due to the pandemic. However, to reduce the likelihood of isolation and financial exploitation, Thomas urges Virginians to stay in touch with older family members, friends and neighbors by phone, text, email, video calls or other means. “Remind seniors that scammers follow the headlines and may try to exploit the pandemic. Make them aware of the red flags of fraud, which are often the same regardless of the type of scam,” he said.

Thomas asks Virginians who suspect possible senior financial exploitation to contact the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising at 804-371-9051 in Richmond 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 the North American Securities Administrators Association’s website at www.nasaa.org/1723/senior-investor-resource-center/.

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Contact: Katha Treanor (804) 371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) invites comments from the public on establishing a universal service fee to be paid by retail customers of Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power to support a new program that limits utility payments for qualified customers.

The Virginia Clean Economy Act, enacted in the 2020 session of the General Assembly, established in its provisions a program designed to limit electric utility payments of persons or households participating in certain public assistance programs based on a percentage of their income.

The Act directs the SCC to initiate proceedings to establish the rates, terms and conditions of a universal service fee to fund the program. The service fee will be paid by the customers of Dominion and Appalachian through their utility bills. The Act requires the SCC to issue final orders concerning these proceedings by December 31, 2020.

The Commission established separate cases for the two utilities, directing them to propose rates and provide the information necessary to support the proposed universal service fees. The Act also directs the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Department of Social Services to convene a stakeholder group to develop recommendations regarding the implementation of the universal fee. The Commission encourages the agencies to participate in the SCC proceedings.

Comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by October 7, 2020, at https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply scroll down to case number PUR-2020-00109 for Dominion or PUR-2020-00117 for Appalachian, and click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

A combined hearing for public witness testimony in both cases will be convened by telephone at 9:30 a.m. on October 13, 2020. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the Commission by 5 p.m. on October 8, 2020. Witnesses will be called by SCC staff on October 13 to testify in the order in which they registered. Testimony will be limited to five minutes. The public witness 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-2020-00109 or PUR-2020-00117 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

For PUR-2020-00109, the Commission has scheduled a hearing on October 14, 2020, to receive opening statements, testimony, and evidence offered by the company, respondents and the SCC staff. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the SCC’s courtroom on the second floor of the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street. 

For PUR-2020-00117, the evidentiary hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. on October 15, 2020.

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Case Number PUR-2020-00109 – Establishing the rates, terms and conditions of a universal fee to be paid by the retail customers of Dominion Energy Virginia
Case Number PUR-2020-00117 – Establishing the rates, terms and conditions of a universal fee to be paid by retail customers of Appalachian Power Company

Contact: Andy Farmer (804) 371-9928

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has extended the moratorium on service disconnections for utility customers due to unpaid bills caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The SCC order extends the ban through August 31, 2020 and gives the General Assembly time to address the economic impact of the crisis on utility customers.

During the crisis period, electricity, natural gas, water and sewer utilities regulated by the SCC must offer extended payment plans with no late fees or reconnection charges to residential and small business customers whose unpaid bill amounts are the result of COVID-19 issues.

Reacting early to the crisis in mid-March, the SCC ordered a 60-day ban on service cut-offs. In a mid-May order, the ban was extended an additional 30 days through June 15.

In explaining the need for an additional extension, the SCC stated, “Our purpose since our original order on March 16th imposing a moratorium on service shut-offs has been to protect Virginia's utility customers who, through no fault of their own, have been the victims of the devastating economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The Commission added, “While we have acted promptly throughout this crisis to protect customers unable to pay utility bills due to the COVID-19 crisis, the only truly sustainable solution is government action beyond utility regulation in the immediate short term and a restoration of economic health as soon as possible.”

On May 26, the SCC invited comments on whether the service cut-off moratorium should be continued and, if so, how to ensure that the costs of such an extension would not be shifted to other customers who may themselves be struggling to pay bills.

More than 300 comments were received. Commenters included 58 members of the General Assembly, the Governor of Virginia, and numerous utilities, organizations and citizens.

In the May 26 order, the Commission said, “The reality is that a moratorium on all service disconnections due to unpaid bills is not sustainable on an unlimited basis in the absence of programs to ensure that the growing costs of unpaid bills are not unfairly shifted to other customers.”

In approving the latest extension to August 31, the SCC said, “This additional extension will give the General Assembly and Governor time to address the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis on utility customers, an effort alluded to in the letter …  from the 58 General Assembly members as well as several other commenters.” The Commission added, “We emphasize that utility regulation alone cannot adequately address what is a much broader socioeconomic catastrophe.”

The SCC will closely monitor progress on reducing bill arrearages and service cut-offs by requiring monthly reporting of key metrics, including data regarding trendlines and amounts of past due accounts, use of extended payment plans, trends of disconnection notices and disconnections for nonpayment, as well as monitoring relevant economic data.

In its latest order, the Commission wrote, “It is our fervent hope that the process of healing the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 crisis will continue. In particular, we hope that jobs and livelihoods will be fully restored … which includes the many Virginia small businesses which have incurred devastating damage.”

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Case Number PUR-2020-00048

Contact: Ken Schrad 804-371-9858

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is launching a pilot program that is open to commercial customers of Dominion Energy Virginia who previously sought to aggregate their load to shop for electricity supply service.

Effective July 1, legislation approved by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly (HB 889, Chapter 796 of the Acts of the Assembly) directs the Commission to conduct the pilot program and caps the program at 200 megawatts (MW).

Prior to February 25, 2019, the SCC received multiple requests from large commercial customers for permission to pool together the load of their separately metered retail stores to purchase electricity from third-party suppliers.

A provision of Virginia law mandates that a single customer with more than 5 MW of demand can leave the utility system and purchase power from a third-party vendor. Individually, a single retail store unlikely meets the threshold. The 5 MW of demand could be met by combining the load of multiple store locations that are owned by a single entity.

Pilot-eligible commercial customers may file a notice of intent to participate with the SCC at any time. If the 200 MW is reached, however, no further notices will be accepted.

The law requires the Commission to evaluate the pilot program in 2022.

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Case number PUR-2020-00114 

Contact: Ken Schrad (804) 371-9858

 

 

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) invites comment from the public on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) filed by Dominion Energy Virginia on May 1, 2020. An IRP is a forecast of Dominion’s load obligations and a plan to meet those obligations by supply side and demand side resources over the next 15 years.

The Commission directed the company to include certain additional information in its 2020 IRP related to recent legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly. The Commission also required Dominion to include a residential bill analysis showing projected annual impacts to a residential bill over the next 10 years, as compared to the bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month as of May 1, 2020.

Based on the company’s billing analysis included in its May 14, 2020, supplemental filing, the monthly bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month is projected to be between $168.58 and $171.20 by 2030, an increase of between $52.40 and $55.02 per month over the current level of $116.18 (or an estimated annual increase of $628.80 to $660.24). This projected increase reflects a compound annual growth rate of 3.6 percent to 3.7 percent.

Comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by October 20, 2020, at https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply scroll down to case number PUR-2020-00035, and click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

A hearing for public witness testimony will be convened by telephone at 9:30 a.m. on October 22, 2020. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the Commission by 5 p.m. on October 19, 2020. Witnesses will be called by SCC staff on October 22 to testify in the order in which they registered. Testimony will be limited to five minutes. The public witness 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-2020-00035 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 Commission has scheduled a hearing on October 27, 2020, to receive opening statements, testimony and evidence offered by the company, respondents and the SCC staff. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the SCC’s courtroom on the second floor of the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street. 

 

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Case Number PUR-2020-00035 – Dominion Energy Virginia’s Integrated Resource Plan

Contact: Andy Farmer 804-371-9928
RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) will hear public witness testimony regarding the proposed Dulles Greenway toll increase on Tuesday, June 30 at 10 a.m. The hearing will be conducted via webcast by the Commission.

The June 30 hearing replaces two previously scheduled local hearings on May 11 and 12 in Leesburg and Ashburn, cancelled because of the public health emergency related to COVID-19. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the Commission by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 26, 2020. Witnesses will be called by SCC staff on June 30 to testify in the order in which they registered. Testimony will be limited to 5 minutes.

Public witnesses wishing to provide testimony may pre-register in one of three ways:
 
  • Completing a public witness form 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.
On June 30, registered public witnesses should listen to the webcast. Upcoming witnesses will be announced during the proceeding, and should be prepared to receive a call from 804-299-5840. Upon receiving a call from that number, witnesses should lower the volume of the webcast, and listen to the instructions received by phone.

Members of the public wishing to submit written comments may do so by August 24, 2020, at https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply scroll to case number PUR-2019-00218 and submit comments.

The evidentiary hearing in this case has also been rescheduled for August 13, 2020, in the SCC’s courtroom in Richmond.
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Case Number PUR-2019-00218 – Application of Toll Road Investors Partnership II, L.P. for an increase in the maximum level of tolls

Contact: Allan Sharrett (804) 371-9968

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is offering the opportunity for public comments to be received by telephone regarding a request by Kentucky Utilities Company, doing business as Old Dominion Power Company, to reduce its fuel rate. 

Kentucky Utilities is proposing to decrease its fuel factor by $0.00440 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from $0.02623 per kWh to $0.02183 per kWh, effective for service rendered on and after April 1, 2020. For the average residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month, it represents a decrease of $3.15 per month.

Electronic public witness testimony will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Public witnesses may access the hearing by dialing 1-804-299-5840 and entering the conference ID of 635657397.

The deadline for filing written comments also has been extended. Comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by June 10, 2020, at https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply scroll down to case number PUR-2020-00029, and click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

The evidentiary hearing in this case will follow the public witness testimony. The hearing will be webcast on the SCC website by visiting: https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting. A link to the live webcast will appear on the site 10 minutes before the start of the hearings.

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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) will hear additional public witness testimony on Monday, June 8 regarding the Virginia Natural Gas Header pipeline project. It will be a virtual hearing, webcast by the Commission. The deadline for filing written comments is also extended to June 8, 2020.

The process for public witness testimony will be different than the public hearing held on May 12. At that hearing, 30 public witnesses called the Commission to testify. For the June 8 hearing, the Commission will call public witnesses who pre-register with the Commission prior to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 4. The deadline to register is two business days in advance of the Monday, June 8 telephonic hearing that begins at 10 a.m. Each witness will have five minutes to provide testimony.

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

  • Completing a public witness form on the Commission’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 day of the hearing, public witnesses should listen to the webcast. They will hear they are about to be called. The call identifying number will be 804-299-5840. Upon receiving a call from that number, turn down the volume of the webcast and listen to the instructions received by phone.

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Case number PUR-2019-00207 – Virginia Natural Gas Header Improvement Project

Contact: Ken Schrad (804) 371-9858

RICHMOND – Did you know that just an inch of floodwater can cause more than $25,000 in property damage? The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) encourages all Virginians to review their insurance policies now to ensure they are covered in the event of a disaster.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, which can bring high winds and torrential rains to areas even hundreds of miles from the coast.

“Knowing the ins and outs of your coverage could save you untold stress down the road,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “There’s typically a 30-day waiting period between the time you buy flood insurance and the time it takes effect, so be sure to talk with your insurance agent sooner rather than later.”

Whether you have commercial, auto, flood, or homeowners insurance, insurers usually will not adjust coverage once a hurricane or tropical storm is forecast. Additionally, some homeowners insurance policies may have separate hurricane or wind deductibles which they would have to pay before insurance coverage begins.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) partners with dozens of private insurance companies that offer flood insurance policies https://www.floodsmart.gov/flood-insurance/providers. Although private insurers may offer other flood policies outside the NFIP in some circumstances, you should check with your insurance agent about any coverage issues and availability of a private flood insurance policy before you buy. In either case, ask whether your flood policy provides coverage for your personal property.

When considering your insurance needs, the Bureau offers several general recommendations to prepare for an insurable event:

  • Anticipate complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, including emergency shelter shut-downs, travel restrictions, face shield requirements, a scarcity of emergency supplies, social distancing recommendations, and more.
  • You should prepare a complete inventory of your personal property, including photographs, videos, and serial numbers, stored in a safe place. The “myHOME Scr.APP.book” program – a free smartphone app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners – is a great place to start.
  • Write down your insurance company’s name along with all your insurance policies (homeowners, auto, etc.) to keep with your home inventory. You will need their policy and phone numbers in case you have questions or need to file a claim.
  • If your property is damaged by a hurricane, get in touch with your insurance agent or company immediately and make any necessary emergency repairs to prevent further damage. Be sure to keep a list of all damage, along with photographs, notes, and related receipts, if possible.

For more information on what to do in the event of disaster, visit https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Disaster-Readiness.

You can also get in touch with the Bureau’s specially trained staff for help with insurance-related questions and concerns:

  • Consumer Services Section of the Bureau’s Property and Casualty Division (tollfree) 1-877-310-6560, or in Richmond at 804-371-9185.
  • Bureau of Insurance mailing address – P.O. Box 1157, Richmond, Virginia 23218.
  • Online at https://www.scc.virginia.gov/pages/Bureau-of-Insurance.

For additional emergency preparedness information relating to hurricanes and other types of disasters and hazards, visit www.vaemergency.gov.

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Contact: Ford Carson (804) 371-9141
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