Mark Webb, Dominion Resources Services, Inc.
Mark Webb, Director of Policy and Business Evaluation Alterative Energy Solutions of Dominion Resources Services, Inc., spoke this afternoon on Dominion’s “New Direction in Energy”.
Dominion is a leading provider of electricity, natural gas and energy services to not only Virginia, but to the Mid-Atlantic region as a whole, amongst other regions nationwide. Dominion serves more than 2.4 million customers in Virginia alone, with 18000 megawatts of generating capacity dedicated to Virginia customers.
Currently, Dominion Virginia Power is generated by 26% natural gas, 18% nuclear power, 31% coal, 12% oil, 13% hydro/other sources of power. Dominion is also in the lowest third of the CO2 producing power companies in the U.S., given their use of nuclear power. For the future, Dominion’s integrated strategy includes a balanced and diverse portfolio of generation including renewables, energy conservation and investments in new infrastructure.
Mr. Webb discussed several future concerns, including: rising demand, environmental protection, new generating stations, intensified conservation programs, and advanced technology delivery.
A large concern for Dominion was the high demand for electric power in Virginia and its significant growth in the recent past. Virginia is the 2nd largest importer of electricity, second only to CA, due to rapid growth in the past 16 years. In addition, military base expansion and northern VA data centers has dramatically impacted the increase in power usage.
Another factor in this growing demand is usage by residential customers has increased by 12% since 1992, due to an expansion in the typical household’s dependence on electronic appliances. This heightened demand is unlikely to decrease and a possible future concern is that with this growing use of electronics, how can we ensure that people do not draw on energy sources all at the same time? Ideally, people will charge at night, rather than peak periods. This issue will have a serious impact in the future of electricity generation in the future.
Despite this increased demand, Dominion has committed to state’s goal of 10% electricity consumption reduction by 2022. Dominion also encouraged the use of CFL light bulbs, which are more efficient than those typically used in households. Conservation plan included 12 programs, which where focused on residential lighting, residential new home ENERGY STAR programs, residential air conditioner cycling programs and upgrades for commercial HVACs.
Among the most interesting of Dominion’s conservation programs for the future was the inclusion of “Smart Meters”. Smart meters are an advanced metering infrastructure, which is a small computer that would replace existing meters that allows two way communication between utility companies and consumers that would enable more efficient management of power usages. For example, it would eventually automatically shift demand to off peak hours, thus providing a savings for consumers and evening out the load on the generating system.
Dominion has a range of different types of power generation, Mr. Ward highlighted the following as examples of the diverse types of energy included in Dominion’s portfolio:
-Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center which is a combined biomass and coal facility.
-Wind Power sites in multiple states including 264 MW generated in West Virginia; 400 MW in Indiana (with potential for expansion to 750MW); Illinois 300 MW under development; and announced projects in western Virginia.
Dominion has committed to a voluntary goal 15% of power supply from renewable resources by 2025. About 2% of Dominion Virginia Power’s current generation comes from renewable sources. Currently, Dominion Virginia Power has biomass and hydroelectric renewable power generation. Dominion has also instituted a greenpower option where customers in Virginia can pay more for green power, ensuring that their power is supported by renewable energy.
Additionally, Dominion’s efforts in upgrading the power grid includes a $4 billion investment in power grid in Virginia to integrate all the possible forms of energy anticipated over the next decade. An example of these efforts is the 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line which would span about 60 miles from Carson to Suffolk, Virginia which is under construction now.
Dominion recently formed an Alternative Energy Solutions department to conduct technological research in renewables and conservation load management to support Dominion and help participating in shaping the nation’s energy policy. One of the programs Dominion envisions for the future is the integrated microgrid. This program would create voluntary communities, real or virtual, which would link users to conserve energy from participating customers. Users would voluntarily allow Dominion to shut off power from certain appliances for a designated period of time.
Finally, Mr. Webb spoke of the obstacles energy providers, like Dominion, face in exploring renewable energy sources. The challenges in obtaining state approvals and licenses necessary to harness these renewable energy sources have proven to limit the advancements made in the renewable energy sector. Among the case studies mentioned was Virginia’s offshore wind potential. Offshore wind is Virginia’s single biggest potential source of renewable resources, but there’s been many obstacles including jurisdictional battles between state and federal government, which has recently been settled via FERC and MMS Memorandum of Understanding. But, other issues including transmission, cost efficiency and a host of regulatory concerns are still obstacles to harnessing this energy.