A New Dominion Virginia Power? Or Just a Repackaged One?

Dominion, Virginia’s leading electric power company, has launched a major energy conservation initiative designed to dampen consumer demand for electricity. The program complements an commitment, including a major investment in wind power, to generate 12 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2022. Stated CEO Thomas Farrell in a Friday press release:

Virginia’s need for electricity is burgeoning. The projected additional demand for power in Virginia in the next 10 years is 4,000 megawatts, or the equivalent electricity to power 1 million new homes.

The only way to meet that demand effectively is through a combination of energy conservation, efficiency and peak-load management along with a systematic program to add new generation facilities. This approach will provide our customers with a balanced and flexible portfolio of reliable, cost-effective energy.

Elements of the program include:

  • Load management. Dominion will test programs to encourage customers to reduce electricity consumption during periods of peak demand such as during extreme winter and summer temperatures. Pilot programs include residential and commercial energy audits, an air-conditioning control program, “smart-metering” technologies, and critical peak-pricing plans to help customers shift energy usage to off-peak times.
  • Energy Star. Dominion will promote the purchase and use of energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient building practices for new homes, and energy-efficient improvements for existing homes. The company also will collaborate with retailers to make efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs available to customers at a discount.
  • Technology. Dominion will accelerate the development of new fuel cell technology through an investment in the Microcell Corp. of Raleigh, N.C. Microcell’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) micro fiber fuel cells have applications in electric vehicles and in distributed generation devices. The power company also will support the Dynamic Energy Management initiative of the Electric Power Research Institute.

There’s more, but those are the highlights. Skeptics will denounce these measures as insincere or insufficient. I regard the initiative as a positive development. Regardless, proof will come not from a press release but from real-world behavior. How vigorously will Dominion, which makes its money selling electricity, follow through on measures to curb those sales?

The timing of the announcement is hardly coincidental. The State Corporation Commission is holding proceedings to determine if a legislative goal of 10 percent savings in electricity consumption through conservation by 2020 can be achieved cost effectively. Here is the question: Is that goal aggressive enough? Should the SCC expect more of Dominion and Virginia’s other power companies?

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3 responses to “A New Dominion Virginia Power? Or Just a Repackaged One?”

  1. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Jim Bacon-

    The country’s future depends on our
    rethinking our use of energy from
    what we need in homes and offices
    and how we power vehicles to meet
    our commercial and personal needs.

    We will never find enough new sources of energy to meet our
    growing needs.

    Conservation at all levels is very
    vital to our future.

    We should applaud any efforts to
    promote conversation.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I would agree.

    I admit to being among those who beat up on Dominion and skeptics can be… well.. they can be skeptics with regard to whether Dominion is playing spin games or whether they are truly serious.

    I say.. take them at their word AND …continue with a more durable dialogue about what they are going to do.. and what they might could consider in addition… to what they’ve already commited to.

    I’m NOT advocating .. NOT holding their feet to the fire – in addition to the dialogue though.


  3. Check out a new group that launched today which opposes Dominion Power’s transmission line proposal. We’re Virginia’s Commitment, a coalition of folks seeking 21st century approaches to promoting growth and prosperity in Virginia. We think Dominion’s approach is stuck in the last century, foisting an industrial scale model on the Commonwealth, instead of using technologies that more forward-thinking utilities employ elsewhere.

    We released an independent study today by one of the nation’s most well-respected energy engineering firms.

    Check out http://www.virginiascommitment.org for more ino.

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