Dominion presents conservation plan

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Dominion Virginia Power has proposed a new energy conservation plan that calls for the installation of “smart-grid” technology meters in customers’ homes. According to the company, the meters would reduce electricity use,  saving customers an estimated $1 billion over the next 15 years while doing a better job of protecting the environment.

Under the proposal,  which requires State Corporation Commission approval,  Dominion would spend $600 million to replace its electric meters with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)  along with additional equipment to monitor and control electric distribution .  The technology, capable of two-way communications, would allow more precise control of the energy flow.  Plus, customers could closely monitor their electricity use.  Dominion says that lowering use would avoid the need for for two future power stations and delay the need for two others.

In addition to the smart -grid technology,  the plan provides incentives to build energy-efficient homes and install compact fluorescent light bulbs .  It also would allow Dominion to cycle customer air conditioners and heat pumps during peak times of demand, and to remove refrigerators at least 20 years old. “This plan will provide a jump-start toward meeting the 10 percent conservation goal enacted last year by the Virginia General Assembly and the governor, getting the commonwealth more than one-third of the way there within five years,” said David A. Heacock, president of Dominion Virginia Power. The company hopes to begin implementing the programs next year.

Advanced electric system management could emit 12 million tons fewer of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 15 years, according to Dominion . It estimates the plan would create 2.6 million megawatt-hours of electricity savings, the equivalent of power used by 216,000 average homes.

Dominion’s announcement came before two major decisions scheduled for next week. The SCC will hold a public hearing Tuesday , June 24,  on Dominion’s proposed 18 percent rate increase to cover increased fuel costs. On Wednesday,  June 25, the state Air Pollution Control Board may vote on permits for Dominion’s proposed “clean coal” plant in Wise County.

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