SCC News

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Information Resources Division: 804-371-9141 sccinfo@scc.virginia.gov

 

RECEIVE SCC NEWS

Get updates on the latest in Utility, Financial, and General news

Archive

RICHMOND – Decentralized Finance (DeFi), a relatively new blockchain-based set of financial services, may come with risks that are not readily apparent to investors. As such, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) urges Virginians to approach this technology as they would any other potential investment – with caution as well as an understanding of the potential benefits and risks.

DeFi firms rely on algorithms and use digital assets to provide financial services such as depository services, lending, investing and management services. Some of these services are highly complex, operate outside current regulatory frameworks and may offer few, if any, consumer protections. DeFi relies heavily on peer-to-peer transactions rather than an intermediary such as a bank that holds custody of funds.

“Never invest more than you can afford to lose,” said Ron Thomas, director of the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division). “Because DeFi is an emerging technology – and offers lending and investing options that are not dependent on traditional financial markets – the risks differ from those in traditional markets.”

“The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies is one of the main drivers behind the development of alternative banking and business opportunities that may rely on DeFi models,” Thomas said.

To help Virginians better understand DeFi, the North American Securities Administrators Association, of which the SCC is a member, issued an investor advisory to explain DeFi, the technology behind it, how DeFi lending works, potential risks for investors, and how consumers can avoid becoming a victim to scams.

Thomas encourages Virginians to understand any investment and the person offering it before they invest.

For additional resources regarding securities and investing, or to find out if an investment or the person offering it are properly licensed or registered in Virginia, contact the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising in Richmond at 804-371-9051 or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945, or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Consumer-Investments.

###

Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND– The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved Dominion Energy Virginia’s Phase II of its plan for electric distribution grid transformation projects that the company seeks to deploy in 2022 and 2023.

In its petition, the company proposed projects that focus on grid reliability and are designed to accommodate or facilitate the expected increase in distributed energy resources resulting from recent policy developments, including the Virginia Clean Economy Act and FERC Order 2222.

After consideration of the case record, the Commission approved many of the Phase II projects subject to certain requirements, including cost caps. Among other projects, the Commission approved the company's Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) proposal, which it had previously denied. The Commission's approval was based on several factors, including that the company provided a timeline for system-wide implementation of time-varying rates and now has an active experimental time-of-use rate, which requires AMI.

The Commission also approved a pilot-like proposal for two previously denied grid technologies projects: intelligent grid devices and fault location, isolation and service restoration. The Commission found these projects are targeted at feeder segments with below-average reliability.

The Commission also directed the company to take certain specific actions in implementing the approved Phase II projects and in filing its next petition. The Commission stated the company should continue to perform a robust cost-benefit analysis going forward. The company should also include a more thorough projection of distributed energy resources penetrations and anticipated reliability impacts.

The Phase II projects are grouped into several categories of related elements with associated costs:

  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure, including deployment of approximately 1.1 million smart meters and associated infrastructure - $198.3 million
  • The continued development of a customer information platform - $203.9 million
  • Grid infrastructure, which comprises targeted corridor improvements and voltage island mitigation - $27.7 million
  • Multiple grid technologies - $194.42 million
  • Telecommunications - $102 million
  • Cyber security - $9.3 million
  • Physical security - $37.5 million
  • Customer education - $3 million

###

Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2021-00127 – Dominion Energy Virginia for approval of Grid Transformation Plan
View Final Order

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has applied for a federal waiver to establish the Commonwealth Health Reinsurance Program (CHRP) as directed by Virginia Code Section 38.2-6606. The new program is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2023.

House Bill 2332 was passed in the 2021 session of the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law on March 31, 2021, creating the CHRP and directing the SCC to seek the waiver application.

The CHRP application was submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

###

Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission has determined that Chickahominy Pipeline, LLC is a public utility. The finding means SCC approval is necessary before the company can construct and operate an 83-mile natural gas transmission line across several Central Virginia counties.

In its final order, the Commission adopted the recommendations of an SCC hearing examiner in a report filed on November 15. The recommendation included denying the company’s petition for a declaratory judgment.

Chickahominy Pipeline filed a petition on September 3, 2021, arguing that it is not a public utility because it is transporting but not selling natural gas to its own affiliated company, Chickahominy Power. That company intends to build a gas-fired, electric generation facility in Charles City County approved by the SCC in May 2018 (SCC case PUR-2017-00033).

Chickahominy Pipeline plans to interconnect with an existing interstate natural gas pipeline in in Louisa County. Gas purchased from a wholesale supplier would then be transported by the line through Louisa, Hanover, Henrico and New Kent Counties before reaching the Charles City power plant site.

The Commission agreed that the pipeline company will own and operate a facility through which natural gas will be sold and used for the purpose of heat, light or power [Virginia Code Section 56-265.1 (b)]. Thus, a certificate of public convenience and necessity is required before constructing facilities for use in public utility service.

###

Contact: Ken Schrad, 804-371-9858

Case Number: PUR-2021-00211
View Final Order - PUR-2021-00211

RICHMOND – Many Virginians are already protected against surprise medical bills - thanks to a Virginia law that took effect Jan. 1, 2021. Now, the federal No Surprises Act (NSA), which takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, will provide additional protections for more people against surprise billing for medical expenses.

Surprise billing – or balance billing – occurs when patients enrolled in managed care health insurance plans receive care either in an emergency situation or unknowingly from medical service providers who do not participate in the plan’s network of providers – often referred to as “out-of-network” providers – and the provider bills them for more than their plan’s cost-sharing amounts (such as deductibles, coinsurance and copays).

Virginians enrolled in either fully insured managed care health insurance plans issued in Virginia, or the state employee health benefit plan, must not be balance billed by an out-of-network provider for emergency services. Additionally, out-of-network providers cannot balance bill these individuals for certain non-emergency services during a scheduled procedure at an in-network hospital or other health care facility.

Self-insured group health plans may opt-in to the protections offered by Virginia’s balance billing laws. In Virginia, these plans are known as elective group health plans. Please visit the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) balance billing webpage at scc.virginia.gov/balancebilling to view plans that have chosen to opt-in to Virginia’s protections.

Most people who receive health care coverage through an employer are covered by self-insured health plans. The new NSA applies to items and services provided to individuals enrolled in self-insured health plans offered by employers regardless of the location of the employer or balance billing protections offered by a state, as well as group or individual health care coverage offered through health insurance companies.

New NSA protections – which include cost-sharing rules, prohibitions on balance billing for certain items and services, notice and consent requirements, and requirements related to disclosures about balance billing protections – apply to health care providers and facilities, as well as providers of air ambulance services.

The NSA makes an independent dispute resolution (IDR) process available for providers and insurance companies to settle disputes about a patient’s bill without putting the patient in the middle. Under the NSA, IDR is also available in certain circumstances for individuals who are uninsured.

Some states have their own balance billing IDRs. Virginia law provides a process for insurers and providers to resolve balance billing disputes and prohibits the provider from balance billing the consumer. When a consumer is treated by an out-of-network health care provider for services covered by the law, the provider will submit the claim to the consumer’s insurer or health plan. The insurer or health plan will pay the provider a “commercially reasonable amount,” thereby eliminating any balance payment by the consumer to the provider for services rendered.

The out-of-network provider may dispute the payment amount with the insurer. If that occurs, one of the parties may request that an arbitrator determine the final payment amount and resolve the dispute. Arbitrators must report their final decision to both arbitrating parties and to the Bureau. In support of this dispute resolution process, currently 111 arbitrators have been approved in Virginia. Between January 1, 2021, and October 31, 2021, the Bureau received 727 arbitration requests, 660 of which were accepted as eligible.

Virginia law also requires certain consumer notifications by health care facilities, other medical providers and managed care health insurance plans regulated by the Bureau regarding balance billing protection for out-of-network services – including when a consumer can be balance billed and their rights under Virginia law.  The Bureau has posted a consumer notification for January 1, 2022, that incorporates new federal rights and protections at: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Balance-Billing-Protection.

Keep in mind that, under your health plan, you are still responsible for cost-sharing amounts that may include copays, coinsurance and deductibles.

In some cases, Virginia protections may be more extensive than those provided under the NSA, such as with short-term, limited-duration plans with a network and certain types of in-network facilities subject to Virginia law.

If you think your protections have not been applied correctly, you may contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Balance-Billing-Protection. Consumer questions and complaints about balance billing may be emailed to BureauofInsurance@scc.virginia.gov.

To learn more about your protections under the NSA, visit cms.gov/nosurprises.

###

Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is offering time for members of the public to give oral comments by telephone on an application by Dominion Energy Virginia to construct an offshore wind generation facility off the coast of Virginia Beach and interconnected by transmission lines to the Commonwealth. The project is called the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial Project.

The offshore wind generation facilities would consist of 176 14.7-megawatt wind turbine generators located in a federal lease area beginning approximately 27 statute miles (approximately 24 nautical miles) off the coast. Generated electricity would be transported onshore to a cable landing location at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, then by transmission lines to the Harpers Switching Station at the Naval Air Station Oceana. The estimated cost of the project is approximately $9.8 billion.

The SCC has scheduled a public witness session to begin at 10 a.m. on May 16, 2022, to consider the offshore wind project application. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the SCC by 5 p.m. on May 12, 2022. Witnesses will be called by SCC staff on May 16 in the order in which they registered. Testimony will be limited to five minutes per caller. The hearing will be webcast at: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting.

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

  • Completing a public witness form for case number PUR-2021-00142 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 you wish the Commission to call to reach you during the hearing.

A public evidentiary hearing will follow the public witness hearing at 9 a.m. on May 17, 2022, either in the SCC’s second floor courtroom at 1300 East Main Street in Richmond or by electronic means to receive testimony and evidence from the company, any respondents, and the SCC staff.

For those who prefer, there is also an opportunity to provide comments in writing on the offshore wind project application. Written comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by May 16, 2022, at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply go to the SCC website, select "Cases" and then "Submit Public Comments," and scroll down to case number PUR-2021-00142. Then click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

###

Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2021-00142 – Dominion Energy Virginia for approval and certification of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial Project

 

RICHMOND – As early as January 1, mobile carriers may begin shutting down their 3G networks, making many older cell phones unable to receive calls and texts – including calls to 911 – or use data services. As such, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages Virginians to begin preparing for 3G retirement now.

Mobile carriers are dropping 3G to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. In addition to 3G mobile phones and certain older 4G mobile phones that do not support Voice over LTE (VoLTE or HD Voice), this update will affect other products using 3G network services, including certain medical devices, tablets, smart watches, vehicle SOS services, and home security systems.

  • AT&T announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.
  • Verizon announced that will finish shutting down its 3G network by December 31, 2022.
  • T-Mobile announced that it will finish shutting down Sprint's 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022 and Sprint's 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022. It also announced it will shut down T-Mobile's 3G UMTS network by July 1, 2022 but has not yet announced a shutdown date for its 2G network.

Keep in mind that – even if your carrier is not listed above – you may still be affected. Many carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk and several Lifeline mobile service providers utilize AT&T's, Verizon's and T-Mobile's networks.

Some carrier websites provide lists of devices that will no longer be supported after 3G networks are shut down. You may need to upgrade to a newer device to ensure that you can stay connected, and carriers may be offering discounted or free upgrades to help consumers who need to upgrade their phones.

If unsure about the status of your device, contact your mobile provider or consult your provider's website for more information about their 3G retirement plan. If you purchased your phone independent of a mobile provider, you should be able to check whether your device is 4G LTE enabled (with VoLTE or HD Voice) by checking your phone's settings or user manual, or by searching your phone's model number on the internet, to determine whether you need to purchase a new device or install a software update.

In addition, although they do not cover the cost of new devices, other FCC programs may be able to assist eligible consumers with the cost of phone or internet services:

  • The FCC's Lifeline program may be able to assist eligible consumers in getting connected to phone and internet services. The program provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.
  • In addition, the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a temporary discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic.
###
Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Many investors increasingly want to align their financial goals with their personal beliefs. ESG investing – also known as sustainable investing, socially responsible investing or impact investing – is an investment strategy in which an investor considers environmental, social and governance factors about a company or fund when making financial decisions.

“ESG” is an acronym that stands for environmental, social and governance factors.  Environmental factors generally concern a company’s impact on the environment, such as its energy or water use, pollution output, climate change policies, waste management, greenhouse gas emissions goals, and carbon footprints.

Social factors often relate to a company’s culture and policies impacting employees, customers, suppliers and others. Such factors may include company policies regarding diversity and inclusion, social justice issues, employee sexual harassment, fair labor practices, faith-based issues, and health and safety initiatives.

Governance factors typically consider how a company is run and the relationships its officers and directors have with employees, customers, shareholders and local communities. These factors may include executive compensation, board composition, conflict of interest policies, transparency, ethics, compliance, shareholder rights and lobbying.

Investors interested in ESG investing may consider some or all of these factors when deciding how to invest their money.

As with any investment strategy, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) urges investors to do their homework before making any investment. “All investments are not created equal,” said Division Director Ron Thomas. “While ESG investing is popular, it may not be right for everyone. When investing, consider all of your goals and the potential benefits and risks of a particular investment. Don’t invest money you cannot afford to lose.”

Whether pursuing an ESG investing strategy or engaging in any investment activity, Thomas urges Virginians to consider the following:

  • Thoroughly evaluate each investment opportunity and make sure you understand the investment and any fees and expenses associated with it. Seek independent, professional advice, if needed.
  • Check a company’s track record, management and regulatory history using publicly available resources and filings.
  • Review an investment’s disclosure documents.
  • Consider whether an investment’s stated approach matches your investment goals, objectives, risk tolerance and preferences.
  • Do not allow anyone to pressure you into making an investment.
  • Check with your state securities regulator to find out if an investment and the person offering it are licensed or registered. In Virginia, consumers can contact the SCC 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 scc.virginia.gov/pages/Consumer-Investments or the North American Securities Administrators Association website at https://www.nasaa.org/57335/informed-investor-advisory-esg-investing/.

###

Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved a settlement in a triennial financial review of Dominion Energy Virginia’s base rates, terms and conditions for the provision of generation, distribution and transmission services. No case parties opposed the settlement.

Through its order, the Commission approved customer refunds totaling $330 million and the statutory maximum annual rate reduction of $50 million. For a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, this rate reduction will result in a decrease of approximately 90 cents per month beginning within 60 days of the SCC final order.

In addition, a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month will receive refunds totaling approximately $67 over the 2022-2023 period.

As part of the settlement, the Commission approved the term of the stipulation authorizing a rate of return on common equity (ROE) for Dominion of 9.35 percent. This ROE will be used for rate adjustment clauses and for Dominion’s next triennial review.

###

Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2021-00058 – Dominion Energy Virginia for a 2021 triennial review of the rates, terms and conditions for provision of generation, distribution and transmission services

RICHMOND – Dry pine needles, icy streets and sidewalks, busy kitchens and overworked outlets are just a few of the seasonal hazards that can result in injuries or damage to your home or property. Those events in turn can lead to expenses or losses that impact your financial well-being if you don’t have adequate insurance coverage.

In order to keep spirits bright, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to check with their insurance agent or company to ensure they have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage in the event of an illness, theft or mishap.

“Make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date so you can minimize any financial damage,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Take a close look at each of your insurance policies to ensure you know exactly what is – and is not – covered.”

Also check that your coverage includes seasonal activities that you may enjoy, such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic creates several recent considerations for policyholders. Among other things, policyholders should consider the following:

  • Compliance requirements with local, state or national restrictions regarding the number of people who may gather at one time;
  • Minimizing the risk of transmission by taking appropriate steps, such as wearing masks, using hand soap and hand sanitizer frequently, and encouraging the sick to stay home, and
  • Understanding how your homeowner’s, renter’s, health and life insurance policies may specifically address COVID-19.

In addition to reviewing your policies, you may take other proactive steps before an accident. Among other things, you may want to keep your auto insurance company’s contact information and a copy of your insurance card with you when you drive, stay alert of local weather forecasts, and bring health insurance information – like identification cards and contact details for family members – with you while traveling.

Finally, the end of the year is a good time to update your home inventory for insurance purposes. Keeping an updated inventory will help ensure your homeowners or renters policy provides enough coverage for your belongings. It also can facilitate the recovery process if you experience loss or damage and must file an insurance claim.

Separate coverage may be needed for high-cost items such as jewelry, art or electronics. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' free smartphone app — NAIC Home Inventory — makes creating a home inventory quick and easy. This app is available through the App Store and Google Play.

For information about a variety of insurance-related topics specifically for consumers, contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance. Additional information also may be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.

###

Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

previous page arrow
1 2 3 4 5

...

11 next page arrow

RECEIVE SCC NEWS

Get updates on the latest in Utility, Financial, and General news

Archive