RICHMOND -- Dominion Virginia Power asked the State Corporation Commission of Virginia Tuesday for approval to reduce the company's fuel charge.

If approved, the change would reduce the bill of a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month by $3.70, from $112.05 to $108.35, or about 3.3 percent.

'While the next adjustment in the fuel charge is not required for another seven months, we believe the circumstances in this case warrant passing along the savings to our customers as soon as possible,' said Paul Koonce, chief operating officer of Dominion Virginia Power. 'We recognize that many customers are facing financial challenges in this difficult economy.'

The company asked that the change take effect December 1.

Dominion Virginia Power explains that the fuel charge pays for fuel the company uses in its power stations to produce electricity, including natural gas, coal and uranium. It is charged on a dollar-for-dollar pass through without any mark-up or profit to the company.

Dominion Virginia Power says they spend nearly $2 billion annually on fuel and related expenses for its Virginia customers. The company is requesting that more than $140 million be returned to customers as a result of the savings due to lower-than-expected fuel prices and mild weather.

By state law, the company files a fuel case only once a year, normally around May 1. The fuel rate normally changes on July 1 each year.

If the reduced fuel charge is approved, a typical residential bill of 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month would be 16 percent lower than the U.S. average and 22 percent lower than the East Coast average.

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