Clinic Student Plays Lead Role at Regulatory Hearing
Kimberly Delk Eason ’19 and Professor Cale Jaffe ’01 represented the nonprofit Virginia Energy Efficiency Council at a State Corporation Commission hearing March 20 in a dispute involving Dominion Energy.
Eason is a student with the Environmental and Regulatory Law Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law, and Jaffe is the clinic’s director.
Dominion has proposed 10 new energy efficiency programs as a first step toward a promised $870 million investment through 2028. The increased commitment on energy efficiency is needed to comply with a state law that is meant to help customers conserve energy, save money on power bills and reduce pollution linked to electricity generation.
Effective efficiency programs also reduce how much money the utility takes in through electricity sales. Dominion is asking the State Corporation Commission to allow it to count these “lost revenues” toward its $870 million obligation on energy efficiency proposals.
Although the council supports the programs that Dominion has proposed to date, it opposes Dominion’s requested treatment of lost revenues. It was this issue that took center stage at the hearing. The council’s analysis showed that lost revenues could eat up more than 40 percent of Dominion’s proposed budget on energy efficiency, dramatically curtailing the amount of money invested in programs that provide direct benefits to customers.
Eason handled the direct and cross-examination of key witnesses at the hearing, focusing on the fact that lost revenues are not a cost that would show up on a tally of expenses paid by Dominion to design, implement or operate energy efficiency programs.
“She was able to bolster the council’s argument on why lost revenues should not count toward the $870 million target,” Jaffe said.
Chelsea Harnish, executive director of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, agreed it was a successful collaboration.
“Kimberly did a terrific job,” she said. “She was professional and poised while cross-examining the witness and even got a few laughs in the courtroom, which was a great way to put the witness at ease. We were very pleased to be able to connect with UVA Law School and have the clinic represent us.”
Eason said, “It was unlike anything else I’ve participated in throughout my law school experience.”
Read more about the hearing here.