CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- 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.
Dominion Virginia Power
executives joined Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, University of Virginia President John Casteen, state and local officials, and private industry partners today to unveil SmartGrid Charlottesville. 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.
"This program launches a new era in energy efficiency and customer empowerment for Virginia," said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion. "As the smart grid develops, energy conservation capabilities and programs will grow and provide additional benefits for our customers, the environment and our company."
Pending regulatory approval where required, the highlights ultimately are expected to include:
- Automatic energy usage reduction of about 4 percent or more annually for typical residential customers through more-efficient management of energy delivery by Dominion. That will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12,000 tons annually, equal to removing 2,100 cars from the road.
- A demonstration project providing customers Web access, through www.Dom.com , for energy usage and billing information.
- The option of time-based rates that give customers the opportunities 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 show customers how their energy usage compares with other customers.
- A demonstration project to test battery storage systems that could promote renewable electricity generation such as solar.
- Automatic reporting of outages, allowing for quicker restoration of service.
- Increased customer convenience through remote turn-on and turn-off of service and remote meter readings.
- A demonstration program for light-emitting diode (LED) 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 expects to seek SCC approval for those programs in a filing early 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.
"SmartGrid Charlottesville is a major leap forward in reducing energy consumption in our households and sets a great example for the rest of the Commonwealth," said Gov. Kaine. "As Virginia continues to invest in industries of the future, innovative tools like smart meters will help households save money on their utility bills while reducing our impact on the environment overall."
U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, D-5th, said, "Smart grid technology is our gateway to the frontiers of the new energy economy, and I'm proud that Charlottesville will be leading the way with this demonstration program. I believe our area can be a catalyst for new technologies that will lower costs for consumers while also reducing our carbon footprint.
"This initiative gives consumers new tools to make smarter choices in how -- and when -- they use energy," said U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner. "I salute Dominion Virginia Power and Charlottesville and Albemarle County officials for blazing the trail in Virginia with this next-generation energy conservation program."
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.
SmartGrid Charlottesville is in addition to Dominion Virginia Power's green power program and its other energy conservation programs.
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.