Dominion Energy has announced a new proposal filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), which aims to give all customers greater access to clean energy sources. The proposal outlines expanded details of the first three years of implementation of the company’s 10-year plan to transform the state’s energy grid.
With SCC approval, the initiative will enhance service to customers through implementation of new technologies and a series of new programs developed with input from stakeholders and customers over the past several months. The initiative comes as the company continues its progress toward a clean energy future and amid Governor Northam’s call for Virginia’s electric sector to fully decarbonize by 2050. Dominion Energy has continued to expand its growing solar and offshore wind portfolio.
The proposal calls for approximately $594 million in investments through 2021. Those investments include a new customer information platform, which allows customers to digitally manage their energy usage, and installation of nearly one million smart meters, which would more than triple the number currently deployed. Pending subsequent SCC approvals, the company would achieve full smart meter deployment in its Virginia service area by 2024.
Customers will see no rate increase for costs associated with deployment of the new customer information platform and smart meters installed through 2021, which represents approximately half of the initial three-year investment package, because the company plans to reinvest funds under the provisions of the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 (GTSA).
The SCC previously approved investments, under the GTSA, for improvements in cyber and physical security, and telecommunications.
According to a cost-benefit analysis performed by West Monroe Partners, a business consulting firm, the investments will provide a range of customer benefits, including fewer power outages and flexible rate options to meet customer lifestyles. The analysis concluded that the planned investments deliver significant benefit to all customers across a wide range of areas, while also driving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, increase in new jobs and economic growth in the Commonwealth, and savings to electric vehicle owners.
Customer benefits of the proposal include:
More Control and Convenience – Smart meters will give customers more information and tools to better manage their energy use and bills. Customers will be able to save money through new options like timely usage insights and energy efficiency programs. The meters allow customers to receive alerts that warn of potential high bills, and notifications will let them know if power goes out and when it is restored. It will also be easier to start or stop service when customers move
More Reliable Service – Customers can expect fewer outages caused by weather and other events due to stronger, more secure and resilient infrastructure and new technology, such as digital intelligent devices and automated control systems that help manage the flow of energy more efficiently across the distribution system. Installation of thousands of smart devices on the grid will prevent some customer outages and automatically report others. The devices will help isolate outages when they do occur and reroute power so that fewer customers are impacted. They also help crews pinpoint the source of outages, speeding restoration.
More Adaptable to Clean Energy – A smart grid is designed to maximize the benefits of renewable energy generation, whether the energy is produced by offshore wind or from solar panels at customer homes. Proposed upgrades will accommodate two-way flow of power, allowing excess energy produced at customer homes to be delivered back to the wider grid
More Electric Vehicles – Proposed investments will accelerate development of more environment-friendly transportation. Among other things, new pilot programs would support rideshare electrification and electric vehicle (EV) charging at multi-family communities, workplaces, transit bus depots and fast-charging locations. Incentives and new programs will help customers make decisions on how and where to charge an EV and still save money.