How Dominion Energy is preparing for more electric vehicles in Virginia

Dec. 5, 2022
A new special report describes innovations in utility value-added services, including how Dominion Energy is preparing for an influx of EVs in Virginia.

In a new special report series, we share results from a survey about utility leaders' views on microgrids as value-added services for customers, then we explore the vanguard of value-added services related to electric vehicles (EVs), distributed energy resources, demand response and more offered by six leading U.S. utilities. In this article, we look at how Dominion Energy is preparing for an influx of EVs in Virginia.

Download the full report.

While there were only 30,000 EVs registered in Virginia as of early 2022, Dominion Energy expects that number could rise to anywhere between 150,000 and 500,000 EVs by 2030. Given the potential to increase electricity sales and Virginia’s target to decarbonize energy use, the company is like many utilities that have a keen interest in transportation electrification. However, Dominion also wants to understand charging usage patterns and develop relationships with customers so that it has the tools to maintain grid reliability as EV adoption grows.

One of the early challenges to EV adoption is access to charging infrastructure, especially for vehicle owners who live in rural areas or in multifamily dwellings.

Dominion launched its Smart Charging Infrastructure Pilot Program in 2020 to provide incentives and create a path to collect data so it could understand usage patterns, a key step to being able to plan for the future of the grid and manage it as EV adoption proliferates.

According to Dominion, the program “offers rebates to help cover the costs of make-ready infrastructure along with the purchase and installation of approved EV charging equipment by Dominion Energy Virginia’s nonresidential customers” for multifamily buildings, workplaces, public fast-charging stations and transit stations. Dominion was also approved to install four public fast-charging stations on its own.

The pilot went beyond rebates for nonresidential charging infrastructure, however. The program also introduced time-of-use rates for EV owners, allowing Virginia customers with smart meters to enroll in a time-varying rate plan that incentivizes EV owners to charge at off-peak times.

With a focus on equity and spreading benefits to underserved communities, the program included the deployment of 50 electric school buses for Virginia schools, the operation of an electric, self-driving public transportation shuttle in Northern Virginia and a partnership with Hampton Roads Transit to provide energy for electric public buses.

The pilot was part of a larger 10-year grid transformation plan approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to enable the Virginia grid to provide more reliable service, more access to renewable energy and more ways for customers to save money.

Specifically, Dominion hopes its early efforts will allow it to work toward some level of managed charging, which can result in less investment in costly new infrastructure and keep rates lower.

The utility has filed with the SCC to expand the pilot to provide customers with electric fleet services, residential chargers and public charging infrastructure. It is also exploring partnerships with EV charging manufacturers on potential managed charging solutions for the future.

Outside of the smart charging pilot, Dominion ran an EV pricing plan pilot program from 2011-2018. Currently, it has an EV charger rewards program for residential customers, in which it offers $40 per year to customers with Level 2 chargers in exchange for allowing the utility to adjust their charging behavior during periods of high demand.

Lastly, Dominion seeks to help prospective EV owners overcome doubts and hurdles through educational offerings, including its website.

Among its core intentions, facilitating access to EV charging will be an important facet of the utility advancing Virginia’s decarbonization goals, said Joe Woomer, vice president of grid and technical solutions for Dominion. He said Dominion also wants to ensure equitable access to the benefits of EVs, which include cleaner air in urban or highway-adjacent communities.

For customers, cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, more convenient and effective charging solutions and ways to save money on charging add up as compelling value delivered through Dominion’s services.

Download the full report “Exploring the Frontier of Utility Value-Added Services,” courtesy of Enchanted Rock to learn more.

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