2013-2014 Citizenship & Sustainability Report

Energy innovation

Energy Innovation

As part of our commitment to provide safe, clean and reliable energy, Dominion’s Alternative Energy Solutions group drives innovation by researching and evaluating renewable and emerging energy technologies to assess their commercial viability and potential for building a more sustainable economy.

2013 Highlights

  • Awarded two U.S. patents for EDGE voltage management software suite that allows utilities to help customers increase energy efficiency, conserve electricity and improve grid reliability
  • Awarded the lease of 112,800 acres of federal land off the coast of Virginia to develop a commercial wind farm capable of producing up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 500,000 homes
  • Began operation of the 14.9-megawatt, clean-energy Bridgeport (CT) Fuel Cell power project, the largest facility of its kind in North America
  • Continued partnership in small-scale power grid (micro-grid) research project in Virginia to test renewable energy, battery storage and energy efficiency technologies and developing a similar project in North Carolina for 2014 launch

Offshore Wind Research Projects

Artist rendering of offshore wind demonstration project

Artist rendering of offshore wind demonstration project

Dominion’s AES group continues to champion the potential development of offshore wind energy along the coastlines of Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

In September 2013, Dominion bid $1.6 million and won a lease for about 113,000 acres of federal land off the Virginia coast to develop a wind farm capable of producing 2,000 megawatts of power – enough to supply 500,000 typical homes. To keep the lease, we must submit a Construction and Operations Plan within 5 years to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

In the meantime, we will continue to work with public and private partners to engineer, design and permit a 12-megawatt wind turbine demonstration facility about 25 miles off the coast of Virginia. Using a $4 million federal grant, the partnership’s goal is to identify ways to make offshore wind generation more affordable using innovative technologies.

In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy selected Dominion as one of three companies to receive as much as $47 million each over a four-year period to design, install and gather operational data from its offshore wind facilities in Virginia starting in 2017.

Dominion is also participating in commercial offshore wind leasing programs underway in Maryland and North Carolina.

Grid Efficiency and Voltage Conservation

In 2011, AES launched a stand-alone conservation voltage reduction and grid-side efficiency suite of software products called EDGETM. This pioneering product uses advanced smart metering technology to adjust voltage delivery over distribution lines during off-peak hours, resulting in sustainable energy savings for utility customers.

In 2012, Dominion Voltage, Inc. (DVI), was created to market the EDGE product to utilities and other companies working to deploy new smart grid applications. The EDGE technology platform is currently being used by municipal utilities in Illinois and Oregon and by an Irrigation District in California.

EDGE software also has been deployed as part of a five-year, micro-grid partnership program between Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Engineering. The EDGE technology is helping manage energy usage and reduce consumption in the school’s engineering building. The project is expected to lower energy costs by about $20,000, or 4 percent a year.

Virginia RPS R&D Program

A 2012 law enacted by the Virginia legislature allows utilities such as Dominion to meet up to 20 percent of their Renewable Portfolio Standards targets by investing in qualified R&D projects.

In 2013, Dominion partnered with 12 universities in Virginia and is providing $1.7 million in funding for a variety of renewable energy and alternative technology projects, some spanning multiple years. The projects include advanced solar cells, advanced offshore wind technologies and the integration of battery storage with solar distributed generation, among others.

Dominion Resources Innovation Center

Dominion Resources Innovation Center

Dominion is a founding partner in this advanced technology business incubator that provides mentoring and other support services to early-stage companies in a wide range of industrial sectors. The Innovation Center also sponsors a “tech challenge” start-up competition for emerging and second-stage technology or knowledge-based entrepreneurs looking for help in moving their ideas from concept to market. Participants in this annual contest compete for a coveted $10,000 first prize, plus free rent and other prizes.

The Center is currently home to six young businesses working to commercialize high-efficiency electric motors, an algae-based biodiesel fuel, renewable chemicals, ice-release coating technologies for industrial applications, medical instruments and recyclable diaper materials for use at tree and plant nurseries.

Bridgeport

The clean-energy Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell in Bridgeport, Connecticut can produce almost 15 megawatts of power through a chemical reaction that converts natural gas to electricity.

“Offshore wind has the potential to provide the largest, scalable renewable resource for Virginia if it can be achieved at reasonable cost to customers.”


- Mary Doswell, senior vice president, Dominion Alternative Energy Solutions