Dominion Virginia Power received SCC  approval to offer an electric vehicle recharging pilot program. The pilot is designed to test whether electric vehicle owners will choose to recharge their vehicles during off-peak hours – typically overnight – in exchange for lower electricity costs. Interested customers will be able to sign up for the pilot program beginning Oct. 3, 2011. Dominion will partner with car dealerships and charger installation vendors to build customer awareness.

The two experimental rate options as a part of the pilot are:

Electric Vehicle only – This option is for charging the electric vehicle only. The company estimates that it would cost about 43 cents on this rate to charge an electric vehicle overnight with enough electricity for a typical 40-mile commute. Customers electing the electric vehicle-only rate option will have a second meter installed to measure the energy use specific to recharging the vehicle.

Whole House – This option allows customers to take advantage of lower prices for many household activities. The pricing would change during the day to encourage the off-peak charging of electric vehicles and use of other household appliances, such as the dishwasher and clothes dryer. The company estimates that it would cost between 41 cents and 49 cents on this rate to charge an electric vehicle overnight with enough electricity for the daily commute.

Each rate option would be limited to 750 participants who would have to stay enrolled for at least one year. The pilot, expected to cost $825,000, will terminate Nov. 30, 2014. It looks like House Bill 2105 was passed right on time. This new law, effective July 1, 2011, will allow Dominion to annually recover the cost of the pilot program. However, the Commission’s order does not allow the company to recover any lost revenue as a result of the pilot.

Virginia has been identified by industry experts as potentially one of the hottest markets for plug-in electric vehicles based on the state’s relatively large number of first-generation hybrid vehicles. Dominion believes there could be 86,000 electric vehicles in the state – equal to 5 percent of all vehicle sales – by 2020. If charged on peak, these vehicles could lead to an increase in the amount of peak-demand electricity the company must supply that year by about 270 megawatts, which is the equivalent of powering 67,500 homes.