Judge James C. Dimitri will retire from the State Corporation Commission at the end of February, ending a more than nine-year tenure in which he publicly challenged the constitutionality of a state law that suspended regulatory review of electric rates for Virginia’s two biggest utilities. Dimitri, 67, said he will retire Feb. 28 to spend more time with his family.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of the commonwealth throughout my years with the State Corporation Commission,” he said in a statement Monday.
Dimitri served as senior counsel and general counsel to the commission from 1994 to 2000 in a career that also included stints at the attorney general’s office, where he served as assistant attorney general from 1983 to 1987.
He also worked in private practice both before and after his work on the SCC staff, including as an attorney for McGuireWoods who represented what is now Dominion Energy.
His resignation two years before the end of his term gives the General Assembly the opportunity to fill the seat on the three-member commission amid increasing public scrutiny of the legislature’s role in reducing regulatory oversight of Dominion and Appalachian Power Co.
Dimitri dissented from SCC opinions that endorsed the constitutionality of legislation adopted by the assembly in 2015 to suspend biennial reviews of utility electric rates for seven years, ostensibly to protect investor-owned utilities from the potential effects of the Clean Power Plan proposed by then-President Barack Obama.
Dimitri said the law would allow Dominion to keep more than $1 billion in profits in excess of its costs and a reasonable rate of return.
The Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the constitutionality of the law in a 6-1 decision in September, with only Justice William C. Mims dissenting.
The term of Judge Judith W. Jagdmann will expire at the end of February, but she is seeking reappointment to the SCC in the legislative session that begins in January.
Dimitri was first appointed to the SCC by Gov. Tim Kaine in September 2008, succeeding Judge Theodore V. Morrison Jr. The legislature confirmed his appointment in 2009 and re-elected him in 2014.