Charlottesville has been selected as the first city in Virginia and one of the first in the nation to benefit from smart grid technology that will make the delivery of electricity more efficient and less costly while improving customer service. Smart grid capabilities also will promote energy conservation and environmental responsibility.
The $20 million program begins with the installation of about 46,500 smart meters in the city of Charlottesville and Albermarle County. More than half of the meters have been installed, with completion scheduled by the end of this year.
Pending regulatory approval where required, the highlights ultimately are expected to include the following:
• Automatic energy usage reduction of about 4 percent or more annually for typical residential customers through more-efficient management of energy delivery by Dominion
• A demonstration project providing customers Web access, through www.Dom.com, for energy usage and billing information
• The option of time-based rates, allowing customers to shift electricity use to off-peak times for additional savings
• A demonstration project with Arlington, Va.-based Positive Energy to provide periodic reports that compares customers’ energy usage with other customers
• Automatic reporting of outages, allowing for quicker restoration of service
• Ademonstration project to test battery storage systems that could promote renewable electricity generation
• Increased customer convenience through remote turn-on and turn-off of service and remote meter readings.
• A demonstration program for light--emitting diode street lights
• Assistance for Charlottesville to evaluate an electric transportation program.
The SmartGrid Charlottesville project is in addition to 12 energy conservation programs that Dominion Virginia Power plans to offer across its service area pending approval of the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The company expected to seek SCC approval for those programs in a filing in July.
The Charlottesville-Albermarle County area was chosen for the project for several reasons. Its varied, hilly terrain provides a test of the two-way wireless communications capabilities of smart meters. It also has a mix of residential, business and institutional customers, and customers have expressed a high interest in actively managing their energy use.
Pending regulatory approval, the company plans to install smart meters and equipment throughout its service area over the next few years. The $600 million program is part of a plan the company announced in June 2008 that is expected to save customers more than $1 billion over the next 15 years through fuel savings and by potentially avoiding the need for two future power stations and delaying the need for two others.
Even with conservation, however, Virginia’s demand for electricity will continue growing by an estimated 4,600 megawatts by 2019. In addition to improving the infrastructure for transmitting power, the company will meet the growth in demand by pursuing a balanced mix of new generating facilities, including wind, biomass and other forms of renewable energy, emissions-free nuclear, natural gas and clean coal technology.