Alternative Vehicles & Fuels
Dominion is actively participating in the development and deployment of alternative vehicle technologies and fuels to help lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Dominion's Green Fleet
Vehicles powered by alternative fuels (AFVs) now make up nearly 30 percent of Dominion’s on-road fleet, which numbers about 5,700 cars and trucks.
More than 800 vehicles in our fleet are powered by B20 biodiesel fuel, and about 250 run on compressed natural gas (CNG), primarily light- and medium-duty pickup trucks at 22 locations in Ohio. The compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling these vehicles displaced the equivalent of about 286,000 gallons of gasoline in 2012. The use of CNG in light-duty pickup trucks typically requires 87 percent less gasoline than regular, gasoline-fueled, light-duty pickup trucks.
Electric technologies make up a smaller but growing portion of our alternative-fuel fleet. In our home state of Virginia, there is a very active emerging market for electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). We estimate that the EV market has the potential to grow to 86,000, or about 5 percent, of all vehicle sales in Virginia by 2021.
We are adding EVs to reduce our carbon footprint, cut fuel use and test the value of this clean technology in densely-populated areas of our Virginia service territory. The EVs run off of a large lithium ion battery pack, with a range of 40 to 100 miles per charge. We expect annual fuel savings in excess of $900 per vehicle.
In 2012, we purchased four utility service trucks that use hybrid electric technology to operate the boom when servicing power lines. In addition to the fuel savings and environmental benefits, the hybrid technology offers lower maintenance costs, less noise at service calls, and healthier work conditions for our line crews.
EV Pilot Program
Beginning in 2011, Dominion Virginia Power customers who drive EVs have been able to take advantage of special charging rates through a pilot program approved by state regulators.
The pilot program is limited to 1,500 customers and will run through November 30, 2014. Data and information gathered from the pilot will help us determine the most sustainable course for supporting electric vehicle charging in the future.
The pilot program provides customers with two discounted rate options:
- An “electric vehicle only” rate option, which involves having a second, dedicated meter installed at the customer’s house to measure the amount of electricity used to charge a car or truck. Charging prices will be lower during the nighttime hours when power demand is reduced. At these lower “off-peak” prices, we estimate it will cost customers about 54 cents to charge a vehicle overnight for a 40-mile commute.
- A “whole house” rate option, which allows customers to take advantage of lower prices for power used by all of their household appliances, including the EV charger, during off-peak hours. Special meters will be installed to measure when, as well as how much, energy is used by the home. Under this rate option, electricity for a 40-mile commute will cost between 51 and 61 cents, depending on the season.
Under standard residential electric rates, it would cost about $1.10 to charge an EV for a 40-mile commute.
More information about the program is available on our website at the following link: www.dom.com/ElectricVehicle.
We are partnering in several public/private research initiatives to test hybrid EVs, collect data and evaluate opportunities to incorporate them into our vehicle fleet.
We have teamed up with General Motors and eight other utilities to test the Chevrolet Volt Extended Range EV and supporting charging infrastructure. To support the three Volts we received in 2011, four charging stations were installed in Northern Virginia and two more are located at our Richmond headquarters facility. Company employees are driving the Volts to facilitate data collection and analysis by GM and the Electric Power Research Institute.
We are also partnering with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Virginia Clean Cities and several other organizations in the Richmond Electric Vehicle Initiative (REVi). A 2011 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy was used to develop a “Community Readiness Plan” to promote the adoption of EVs and associated charging infrastructure in the Richmond metropolitan area. REVi submitted its plan to DOE earlier this year and continues to work for greater market penetration of EVs in Richmond and throughout Virginia.