Dominion Virginia Power began Monday a pilot program that will allow electric vehicle owners to “fill up” during off-peak periods for lower rates.


“This pilot program provides electric-vehicle users an option to help them manage their vehicle charging costs,” Kenneth D. Barker, vice president of Customer Solutions and Energy Conservation, said in a statement. “Knowing that customers will charge their vehicles at night when power demand is at its lowest will enable us to plan accordingly.”
In its application, Dominion estimated that more than 5,000 electric vehicles will be on the roads in its service area by 2013, growing to more than 86,000 by 2020.

The rates are intended to discourage users from charging vehicles during peak times “to minimize the potential adverse impacts on utility infrastructure,” according to the order granting approval for the pilot.

Dominion said the pilot will offer participants two rate options:

• Electric vehicle only: Customers would have a second meter installed to measure energy used just to charge an EV at a lower rate. Dominion estimates it will cost about 54 cents to charge an EV overnight.

• Whole house: The price for electricity would change during the day to encourage off-peak use for charging vehicles. Dominion estimates it will cost 51 cents in the summer and 61 cents in the winter to charge an EV.

The utility said regular costs to charge an EV would run about $1.10, using its standard residential rate. Each option will be limited to 750 participants, Dominion said. The pilot is scheduled to end Nov. 30, 2014, and participants are required to enroll for at least one year.