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 reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Vehicles powered by alternative fuels now make up more than 30 percent of Dominion’s fleet, which numbers close to 5,700 cars and trucks. Nearly 1,000 vehicles in our fleet are powered by biodiesel fuel, and almost 300 more by compressed natural gas (CNG).
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). We estimate that the EV market has the potential to grow to 70,000, or slightly less than 5 percent, of all vehicle sales in Virginia by 2020.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Electric Vehicles
Our Dominion Virginia Power unit currently has three Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and one Plug-In Electric Vehicle in its service fleet. We are adding EVs to reduce our carbon footprint, cut fuel use and test the value of this clean technology in densely-populated Northern Virginia and in Richmond. 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.
We also have two hybrid aerial lift trucks in service in Northern Virginia, where they are used to service power lines. Tests have produced fuel savings of up to 60 percent relative to their diesel-powered counterparts. In addition to the environmental benefits, the hybrid vehicle technology offers potentially lower maintenance costs, less noise at service calls, and healthier work conditions for our line crews.
Public/Private Research Partnerships
We are partnering in several public/private research initiatives designed 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 Electric Vehicle and supporting charging infrastructure. Dominion installed four charging stations in late 2010 in Northern Virginia and received three Chevy Volts in 2011. Company employees are driving the Volts to facilitate data collection and analysis by GM and the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Dominion and Ford Motor Company continue to coordinate efforts to help prepare Virginia for the operation of EVs. Our two companies announced their collaboration in 2010, and we plan to work together to develop consumer outreach and educational programs, as well as share information on charging needs and requirements to make sure the power grid can support the necessary electrical demand.
The collaboration between Ford and Dominion also involves working with state and local governments on the most efficient ways to bring EVs to Virginia. Government support for infrastructure and a simple charging station permitting process are thought to be two key prerequisites for EV acceptance in Virginia and across the country.
EV Pilot Program
Beginning in October 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 provides customers with two discounted rate options:
- An “electric vehicle only” rate, which involves having a second, dedicated meter installed at the customer’s house to measure the amount of electricity used solely 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” 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.
By contrast, under standard residential electric rates, it would cost about $1.10 to charge an EV.
The pilot program is limited to 750 customers for each rate option 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.
More information about the program is available on our website at the following link: http://www.dom.com/about/environment/electric-vehicles.jsp.
Natural Gas Vehicles
Our Dominion Energy unit has about 300 natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in its fleet, primarily light- and medium-duty pickup trucks, at 22 locations in Ohio. The compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling these vehicles displaces the equivalent of 360,000 gallons of gasoline a year.
The use of CNG in light-duty pickup trucks typically requires 87 percent less gasoline than regular, gasoline-fueled light-duty pickup trucks. Over the past decade, we estimate that our NGV fleet has displaced a total of about 2.4 million gallons of gasoline.
We are committed to reducing our reliance on traditional fuels as a way of lowering the company’s carbon footprint and supporting renewable energy sources.
We began testing B20 biodiesel fuel in our Dominion Virginia Power fleet in 2007. Since then, we have used more than 5.5 million gallons of B20 at 32 locations in Virginia and North Carolina. Almost 1,000 Dominion service vehicles currently operate on biodiesel fuel every day.