In a last round of sparring before hearings on Virginia Electric and Power Co.'s record rate increase request. Vepco President Stanley Ragone warned yesterday that the company will refile immediately for any revenues denied by state regulators. But a consumer spokesman said the utility's rate request is based on unrealistic growth projections.
Vepco is seeking a 23 percent increase in rates charged more than 1 million Virginia customers, or about $246 million in annual revenues.
Ragone told a meeting of Rotary Clubs in Hampton yesterday that a recommendation by the staff of the State Corporation Commission that Vepco get only $170 million of its request is inadequate and "can only lead to repetitive rate relief requests."
If the SCC grants less than the full amount sought. Ragone added, "we'll be right back in for the difference in February or March - whenever we get the data in."
The Vepco president said that in addition to any revenues denied as a result of hearings that begin Tuesday, the company will ask for another increase to compensate it for its investment in the next nuclear power generating unit at its North Anna power station in Louisa County.
The company currently is collecting an 8.5 percent surcharge - more than $80 million in annual Virginia revenues - for operation of the first of four North Anna generating units that began producing power in June. The $30 million is included in the $246 million permanent rate request.
On the other side of the rate issue, the Virginia Consumer Congress yesterday warned that the rate increases needed to support Vepco's projected annual growth in power demand of 5.5 per cent ultimately will stifle the Virginia economy.
Consumer Congress lawyer Eric M. Page said at a Richmond press conference that his group would argue at the hearings that the 43 percent growth in demand the company projects by 1985 is unrealistically high.
Testimony profiled by the Consumer Congress contends that a 13 percent growth rate projected by Potomac Electric and Power Co. and a 25 percent rate by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. for the same period are more realistic.
A Vepco spokesman responded by saying that slower growth of the population and economy in the Maryland areas served by those utilities make the comparisons invalid.