Critics of Dominion see unexpected wins in 2017 elections

By Ned Oliver

Why you know him: State Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, began the year as one of the few voices in the General Assembly to publicly challenge Dominion Energy’s powerful influence on the state legislature.

He submitted legislation to end a rate freeze the power company won in 2015 and restore state oversight of the monopoly.

It went nowhere, and Petersen said he was laughed at by some of his colleagues for even raising the issue.

“It was pretty lonely there for a little while,” he said.

Since then, a lot has changed: A wave of Democrats elected to the General Assembly included 13 who had signed pledges refusing to accept donations from the monopoly.

Less than a month later, Dominion, after defending the freeze for two years, said it was “time to transition away” from the controversial 2015 law.

What’s new: Petersen said that with new allies in the House of Delegates, he expects to pick up more ground in the coming session, where he will present a package of utility reform legislation, which includes restoration of rate reviews and a ban of campaign donations from state-regulated monopolies.

“Since I was elected to the House of Delegates in 2001, Dominion has always been in control,” he said. “That era is over.”

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