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RICHMOND – Starting November 13, 2021, permissive 10-digit dialing will begin for Virginians living in the 540 area code region. This is the first step in a June 2020 relief plan approved by the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to phase in the new 826 area code. During the next six months, local calls can be made with either 7 or 10 digits, and all calls that are local will continue to be local even though you dial 10 digits.

The 540 area code encompasses the northwestern and southwestern portions of Virginia; some of the larger cities include Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Radford, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester.

In the coming months, the inventory of available phone numbers with "540" as the area code is expected to run out. The SCC approved an overlay, which is the addition of another area code (826) to the same geographic region served by an existing area code (540). Beginning June 14, 2022, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 826 area code.

The good news: residents and businesses that already have phone numbers will get to keep them. No one’s 540 phone number will change.

And what do you need to do? Very little. Just start practicing dialing phone numbers using all 10 digits because, beginning May 14, 2022, local calls made in the 540 area code won't be connected if just 7 digits are dialed. You must use 10 digits (3-digit area code + the 7-digit telephone number) as of next May 14. One thing people can do to prepare for the switch is to update their cell phone contacts now, so that phone numbers they call regularly already will have the area code attached.

For more information on this topic, see: scc.virginia.gov/pages/540-Area-Code-Exhaust-Relief.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

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

RICHMOND – Mandatory 10-digit dialing (area code + phone number) will begin October 24, 2021, in Virginia area codes 804 and 276. The dialing changes are needed to accommodate the new three-digit dialing number – 988 – for the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).

The NSPL is a critical emergency resource that connects Americans in crisis to suicide prevention and mental health counselors. It can currently be reached any time day or night at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). Dialing the NSPL will get even easier starting July 16, 2022, when a three-digit number – 988 – begins operation.  The new number was approved by the Federal Communications Commission last year.

Virginia is among 35 states and one U.S. territory that must start using 10-digit dialing to clear the way for use of the 988 national number next year. In the Richmond region (area code 804) and the Southwest Virginia region (area code 276), where local calls can now be made by dialing just 7 digits, many phone numbers start with "988." Since "988" will now be dedicated to NSPL, people in the affected area codes will now have to dial "804" or "276" at the beginning of all local calls. This is known as 10-digit dialing.  (Note: Using a "1" before the area code will be needed only for long-distance calls.)

Optional 10-digit dialing began in area codes 804 and 276 in April for all local calls. On and after October 24, 2021, 10-digit dialing will be required for all calls. Local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform callers that their call cannot be completed as dialed.

Little else will change for telephone users inside the 804 and 276 area codes. During and after the transition to 988, the NSPL will continue to be available at the longer phone number as well:  1-800-273-8255. Other three-digit dialing services such as 211, 711, 811, and 911 will not be affected. Telephone numbers, area code numbers, coverage areas and local call boundaries will remain the same.

Suicidepreventionlifeline.org is another resource for people in crisis, and 911 is available for emergency situations.

For more information about phone service changes resulting from the NSPL’s upcoming 988 number, visit the FCC website at fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline or the SCC website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/988-Preparation.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

 
 

RICHMOND – The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought remote work, education, and medical care to the forefront, underscoring the need for all Virginians to stay digitally connected. As such, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) is partnering with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) to highlight “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week,” September 20- 24, 2021.

Lifeline is a federal program that helps low-income consumers afford 21st century broadband. The program provides a $9.25 monthly discount on broadband service and a $7.25 monthly discount on voice service, with a limit of one benefit per household. You could be eligible if your income falls below a certain level – at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines – or if you participate in one of these federal assistance programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

Participating companies can help with enrollment. You can also use a new option – the Lifeline National Verifier (www.checklifeline.org) – to check whether you are eligible and sign up for Lifeline. Since not all companies are required to offer Lifeline service, it’s a good idea to contact the companies you want to provide you with service to see if they participate.

To learn more about Lifeline and the Lifeline National Verifier, and to see if you are eligible, call 1-800-234-9473 or email lifelinesupport@usac.org or visit www.lifelinesupport.org or the FCC website at www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers. You may also contact Leah Sorini with Universal Service Administrative Co., the company that administers the Lifeline program, at 202-772-6274 or at LifelineProgram@usac.org.

Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved in part and denied in part an environmental rate adjustment clause (E-RAC or rider). The rider recovers environmental compliance expenses associated with federal rules regulating the disposal of coal ash at two of the company’s power plants located in West Virginia.

These power plants, the Amos and Mountaineer plants, are coal-fired generation facilities that produce electricity to serve Appalachian Power’s Virginia customers. The SCC reviews and approves the share of those environmental compliance expenses that Virginia customers pay through electric rates.

The SCC approved a $27.44 million Virginia revenue requirement for the first year of the rider. The rider will be adjusted annually to reflect actual and projected expenses associated with compliance costs. The rider will increase the monthly bill of a typical Appalachian Power residential customer by $2.17 starting October 1.

The SCC denied approximately $4.2 million of expenses associated with Appalachian Power's proposed investment in the Amos and Mountaineer power plants to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Steam Electric Effluent Limitations Guidelines ("ELG"). The Commission found that Appalachian Power did not meet its burden of proving the reasonableness and prudence of these costs at this time.

In its final order, the Commission said, “We find it is critically important to analyze the overall impact of this investment on both customer rates and reliability, and that [for this specific expense] the instant record is currently lacking in both regards.”

The Commission reiterated in its order its sensitivity to the effects of these rate increases particularly considering the economic impacts associated with COVID-19. The Commission, however, said it must follow the laws applicable to any rate case as well as the findings of fact supported by the evidence.

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Contact: Ken Schrad, 804-371-9858

Case Number PUR-2020-00258
Order Granting Rate Adjustment Clause

RICHMOND – Starting September 11, 2021, permissive 10-digit dialing will begin for Virginians living in the 757 area code region. This is the first step in a February 2020 relief plan approved by the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to phase in the new 948 area code. During the next six months, local calls can be made with either 7 or 10 digits, and all calls that are local will continue to be local even though you dial 10 digits.

The 757 area code encompasses the vast majority of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area including Williamsburg, Franklin and Suffolk in the west, and Virginia Beach, Norfolk and the Eastern Shore to the east.

In the coming months, the inventory of available phone numbers with "757" as the area code is expected to run out. The SCC approved an overlay, which is the addition of another area code (948) to the same geographic region served by an existing area code (757). Beginning May 9, 2022, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 948 area code.

The good news: residents and businesses that already have phone numbers will get to keep them. No one’s 757 phone number will change.

Consumers should start practicing dialing phone numbers using all 10 digits because, beginning April 9, 2022, all local calls made in the 757 area code will not be connected if seven digits are dialed.

You must use 10 digits (3-digit area code + the 7-digit telephone number) as of next April 9. One step people can do to prepare for the switch is to update their cell phone contacts now, so that phone numbers they call regularly already will have the area code attached.

For more information on this topic, see: scc.virginia.gov/pages/757-Area-Code-Exhaust-Relief-FAQ

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – August 11 is the day recognized in the Commonwealth to remind Virginians of the importance of always contacting Virginia 811 before you dig. Virginia 811 is the one-call notification center to report planned excavations in the Commonwealth created by Virginia’s utilities to protect their underground facilities.

Contacting Virginia 811 is a simple, no-cost process, with two convenient ways to do so. You can go online at www.va811.com to disclose a digging project taking place at a single address; this online service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You may also call 8-1-1 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 as well.

Know What’s Below. Contact Virginia 811 before you dig, and Dig with C.A.R.E!

C.A.R.E. means:

  • Contact Virginia 811 before you dig.
  • Allow the required time for marking.
  • Respect and protect the marks.
  • Excavate carefully.

Help keep Virginia’s underground utility infrastructure damage-free and our communities, business districts and environment safe by taking this important first step.

To learn more about “Digging with C.A.R.E.” and Virginia’s underground utility damage prevention program, contact the SCC’s Division of Utility and Railroad Safety at 804-371-9980 or visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Utility-Railroad-Safety.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved the annual plans for the development of new solar, onshore wind, and energy storage resources for Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power Company under a renewable energy portfolio standard program established by the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA).

In completing a detailed analysis of the two plans and issues raised in these proceedings, the Commission wrote in its final orders that it is guided by the statute and the record. “We have exercised the Commission’s delegated discretion in a manner that faithfully implements the VCEA requirements that include carbon reduction, while best protecting consumers who expect and deserve reliable and affordable service.”

For the limited purpose of filing the first renewable portfolio standard (RPS) plans under the VCEA, the SCC found these plans are reasonable and prudent. The Commission further noted that when evaluating subsequent plans and associated petition requests, such future annual filings shall analyze how plans and requests address and implement the RPS and carbon dioxide reduction requirements.

As part of the final order in the Dominion case, the Commission approved the construction of three solar generating facilities, known as the Grassfield, Norge and Sycamore solar facilities totaling approximately 82 megawatts (MW). The SCC also approved the company’s plan to enter into six power purchase agreements for approximately 416 MW of solar power from facilities owned by third parties.

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Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2020-00134 – Establishing RPS Proceeding for Dominion Energy Virginia
Case Number PUR-2020-00135 – Establishing RPS Proceeding for Appalachian Power

RICHMOND – April is National Safe Digging Month, and the State Corporation Commission’s Division of Utility and Railroad Safety (URS) reminds all Virginians to Dig with C.A.R.E. to help keep Virginia’s underground utility infrastructure damage-free and our communities, business districts and environment safe.

Dig with C.A.R.E. is a message for safe digging practices throughout the Commonwealth and its steps are summarized below:

Contact VA811 before you dig.

Allow the required time for marking the utilities.

Respect and protect the marks.

Excavate carefully.

Whether you’re a professional contractor, Do-It-Yourselfer or homeowner, you have an important role in preventing damage to underground utilities. No matter how big or small your project is, contacting VA811 to request the marking of underground utility lines before you dig will help avoid physical injury, property damage, as well as costly utility infrastructure repairs and related service interruptions.

Contact VA811 by going online at va811.com. 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.)

For more information about safe digging and excavation, contact URS at 804-371-9980 or visit the Damage Prevention page.


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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

 

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 increase its fuel rate.

Kentucky Utilities is proposing to increase its fuel factor by $0.00163 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from $0.02168 per kWh to $0.02331 per kWh, effective for service rendered on and after April 1, 2021. For the average residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month, it represents an increase of $1.63 per month.

The public witness session will begin at 10 a.m. on June 2, 2021. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the SCC by 5 p.m. on May 27, 2021. Witnesses will be called by SCC staff on June 2 in the order in which they registered. Testimony will be limited to five minutes. The hearing will be webcast at: 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-2021-00034 on the SCC’s website at: 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 to be used by the Commission to receive their testimony.

The hearing will continue on June 3, 2021, at 10 a.m. in the SCC’s second floor courtroom in the Tyler Building at 1300 East Main Street in Richmond to receive testimony and evidence from the company, any respondents and the SCC staff.

Written comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by May 27, 2021, at https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply scroll down to case number PUR-2021-00034 and click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

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PUR-2021-00034 – Application of Kentucky Utilities Company to revise its fuel factor

Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has adopted rules that will open more opportunities for the development of small solar projects in Virginia that produce electricity to a shared group of subscribers.

Community solar allows a developer of a small-scale solar project to subscribe eligible customers to purchase a share of the output of the solar facility. The customer, through net metering, gets a bill credit from their utility company for the energy being supplied by the shared solar program.

The introduction of shared solar programs results from legislation adopted during the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly. Homeowner’s associations, residential subdivisions, apartment building complexes, office building complexes, and industrial parks may have an interest in being developers of small solar projects.

Initially, there is a program cap on the level of shared solar that is permitted. The program is limited to the service territory of Dominion Energy Virginia. Kentucky Utilities, doing business in Southwest Virginia as Old Dominion Power Company, is participating in a multi-family shared solar program.

The rules adopted by the Commission establish the procedures for becoming licensed as a subscriber organization (the owner of the solar project); registering with the utility company; and the standards the subscribing organization must follow when marketing and enrolling customers.

The rules were developed with the assistance of a stakeholder group of more than 60 participants. The group will continue to provide input to SCC staff as deployment of these programs unfold over the next few years. This will include recommendations for giving low-income customers the opportunity to participate and receive solar energy.

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Contact: Ken Schrad, 804-371-9858

Case number PUR-2020-000124 – multi-family shared solar program regulations
Case number PUR-2020-000125 – shared solar program regulations

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