CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Dominion Energy has announced a new experimental rate plan that would change the way Virginians pay for electricity. The plan, called “time-of-use rate scheduling,” would charge customers based on when they use power, not just how much.
The schedule would divide the day into peak, off-peak, and super off-peak hours, and charge customers differently based on when they use electricity. It would also vary prices by season.
“Say at the middle of the night, when people aren’t really running their heaters or using lights, it would really cost a lot less," Chris Meyer from Charlottesville’s Local Energy Alliance Partnership said. "In the middle of the summer, and the peak summer in August, between three and six PM they will be charging a lot more because everybody wants their air conditioning on.”
Meyer has come out in support of the time-of-use schedule. He says that it would save consumers money if they take advantage of lower rates and plan around the peak hours.
“You can actually reduce your utility bill by a lot," Meyer said. "The rates, when there’s not a lot demand can be 200% to 300% less than your normal rate.”
The benefits of the plan could go beyond cost saving. Meyer says it could actually help the environment by spreading energy usage more evenly across the day.
“The power plants used when these peak hours happen in the summer, the dirtier more pollution polluted types of plants the coal and or natural gas, they’re called peaker plants, and so they come on again when there’s peak demand," Meyer said. "So if we can reduce that peak demand, we reduce these dirtier and more expensive types of electricity.”
The only catch? You’ll need a “smart meter," otherwise known as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to participate, as standard meters cannot transmit time-of-usage data.
Dominion hopes to have the new rate plan in effect as of January 1, 2021.