Industry pilot programs

Every consumer wants the confidence that comes with adequate, safe, reliable, and efficient energy services — at fair and reasonable prices. To accomplish those goals, the General Assembly established a transitional period preceded by a set of pilot programs to phase in Virginia Energy Choice.

The pilot programs were controlled experiments to provide vital information to the utilities, competitors, consumers and the State Corporate Commission. Natural gas pilot programs have been in place for several years. Electric choice pilot programs began in the fall of 2000.

The pilot programs offered several benefits as Virginia began to move toward a fully competitive marketplace.

  • Existing service providers (the local utility company that currently provides generation, transmission and distribution) and competitive service providers (those companies that will offer alternative sources for the supply of energy) had the opportunity to learn how best to serve customers in a competitive environment.
  • The State Corporation Commission, which is charged with making sure the playing field is level when full competition arrives, learned more about its role.
  • Consumers in Virginia had the opportunity to educate themselves so they could make informed choices.

Virginia’s competitive energy supply market is expected to develop gradually. It will follow this timeline:

  • Natural Gas: Since July 1, 2000, Virginia law has permitted natural gas retail choice to expand to all areas of the state.
  • Electricity: Retail choice will first become possible in the Commonwealth on January 1, 2002. It will be phased in, and most Virginians will have the opportunity to shop for electric power by January 1, 2004.

The following schedule shows when consumers of each utility company may have the opportunity to select a new provider, or seller, of electricity and natural gas services.

For Electric Customers:

AEP-VirginiaAllegheny Power and Conectiv will implement full retail choice in their service territories on January 1, 2002.

Dominion Virginia Power will introduce retail choice in three steps over one year.

  • Residential customers in northern Virginia and one-third of the statewide non-residential load will receive retail choice on January 1, 2002. Residential customers in central and western Virginia as well as a second third of the statewide non-residential load will receive retail choice on September 1, 2002. Hampton Roads and the remaining non-residential load will receive retail choice on January 1, 2003. Non-residential customers in all phases will be provided choice on a first come, first served basis.

Virginia’s 13 Electric Cooperatives and Kentucky Utilities will be permitted to move to full retail choice at their own pace to be completed by January 1, 2004.

For Natural Gas Customers:

Washington Gas is currently offering choice in its service territory.

Virginia’s other natural gas companies will be permitted to move to full retail choice at their own pace or by directive of the State Corporation Commission.Please note: Consumers who receive electric or natural gas service from a municipal utility should contact their local government regarding any plans to make energy choice available in their service area.

For additional information, please call Virginia Energy Choice toll-free at 1-877-YES2004, e-mail Virginia Energy Choice, or write Virginia Energy Choice c/o State Corporation Commission, P.O. Box 1197, Richmond, Virginia 23218.