Virginia’s Dominion Power recently launched an innovative pilot program designed to offer owners of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) more flexibility and special rates when it comes to charging their cars.
The program, which is limited to 1,500 participants, is designed to test whether EV owners will choose to charge their vehicles during off-peak hours — typically overnight — in exchange for lower electricity prices. (Studies show there are environmental benefits to charging at night, as well.)
The program has two options. With the EV Only plan a second meter is installed at the customer’s home. The meter is used to measure energy use specific to recharging the vehicle on a dedicated circuit. The company estimates it would cost about 54 cents on this rate to charge an EV overnight with enough electricity for a typical 40-mile commute. Costs would be higher if the vehicle is charged during the day. An additional customer service charge of $2.90 for the second meter is included on the customer’s monthly bill.
The Whole House plan allows customers to take advantage of lower prices for all their household electricity use, including recharging their vehicles. Prices are lower at night to encourage the off-peak charging of electric vehicles and use of other household appliances. With this option, the customer’s meter is replaced with one that records energy use in 30-minute intervals. Customers who choose this option will notice that electricity prices and peak times fluctuate based on season. Dominion estimates it would cost about 51 cents in the summer and 61 cents in the winter to charge an EV overnight with enough electricity for a 40-mile commute. Dominion says that it costs about $1.10 to charge an EV at their standard rate of about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. Participants will have to stay enrolled in the pilot for at least one year.
Dominion believes that by 2020 there could be 86,000 EVs in Virginia — equal to 5 percent of all vehicle sales. If charged on-peak, these vehicles could lead to an increase in the amount of peak-demand electricity the company must supply that year by about 270 megawatts, which is the equivalent of powering 67,500 homes.