The Virginia Electric and Power Co. said last week that its time-of-usage pricing plan would reduce peak demand for electricity without drastically changing customers lifestyles - but not all the customers agreed.
Appearing before the State Corporation Commission at a public hearing Friday, Charles Gary of Chesapeake observed sarcastically that, "My wife likes to cook in the evening."
Nina Eva of Chester said she is allergic to pollen and must keep her air conditioning on at all times.
F.R. Hoffman, a dairy farmer from Culpeper, said dairy farmers couldn't adjust the milking cycle to on-peak, off-peak hours."
"Is a working mother to say up all night to get her children's clothes clean?", asked Gladys Keating of Alexandria, vice president of the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council.
The SCC called the hearing to consider a Vepco proposal that would raise electricity rates during high use periods and lower them during low-use periods. The hours in which higher rates would be charged would be between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
About 9,000 Vepco customers who use 3,500 kilowatt hours or more of electricity per month would be required to participate in the experimental pricing plan, according to the Vepco proposal.
Those customers are the largest residential consumers of electricity in the Vepco system. Some 3,200 live in the northern Virginia area.
The theory behind the time-of-usage pricing is that the higher charges would force customers to curtail their use of appliances during peak hours and make greater use of them during off-peak hours.
If that happened, Vepco would not need as many generating plants in the future to meet customer needs at peak periods. Because new financing needs also would be reduced, the upward pressure on rates also could be reduced. No one at the hearing quarrelled with the theory although some, including gubernatorial candidate Henry E. Howell, said it would not work. Howell said people are not going to change their living habits. A mechanical device to shut off air conditioners automatically during hot summer days is needed, he said.
Despite the objections, the SCC seems certain to adopt most if not all of the Vepco plan. Dr. James C. Dunstan, director of the SCC's public utilities commission, described it as innovative and straightforward.
Preston C. Shannon, chairman of the commission, gave another reason. President Carter's energy message stipulated that if state regulatory commissions do no adopt time-of-usage pricing, the federal government will institute plans of its own, he said.
Dunstan said he had some reservations about the plan, particularly the 12-hour peak period, but he said the only was to determine whether peak load pricing will work is to get on with it.He urged adoption of the plan as soon as possible.
William W. Berry, Vepco's senior vice president for commercial operations, said Vepco feels the experimental program will provide sample data on which it can expand the pricing to other customers.
Berry told the commission that sample data collected by Vepco indicate that most of the high-use customers "will be able to significantly reduce their electric bill without drastic changes in lifestyle."
The plan could be implemented as soon as the $200 meters needed to measure the new rates are installed around mid-1978, he said.
Under the plan there would be a one-year period in which the 9,000 customers would continue to pay at the old rate but receive a sample bill under the new rate schedule. Then the new rate would go into effect for another year.
As another part of the plan 1,000 additional customers, using between 720 and 3,500 kilowatt hours per month could volunteer to be part of the experiment. They would be billed under the new rates as soon as meters are installed.