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    Co-op test drives EV discountSmall Virginia cooperative breaks new ground for electric vehicle owners


    August 16, 2022 - DAVE RESSRichmond Times-Dispatch

     

      RICHMOND - The tiny Northern Neck Electric Cooperative is pioneering a program to give electric vehicle owners a break when charging up their wheels - as long as they do so when other members' power demand is relatively low.

      It will be the first voluntary, separately metered, off-peak electric vehicle charging rate open to all EV owners offered by an electric utility in Virginia.

      The idea is to rein in residential customers' demand for power at peak times - like the late afternoon and evening, as people come home from work or school, and start cooking dinner or cranking up their air conditioners.

      Utilities are looking hard at ways to manage the new demand coming as EVs become more popular. Dominion Energy ran a pilot from 2011 to 2018 to study how EV charging affected the grid. Enrollment is closed, but those who signed up can remain on those pricing plans. Dominion plans to use results from the pilot as it considers future plans for EV rates.

      Rappahannock Electric Cooperative is offering a rebate to as many as 200 customers to encourage them to charge their EVs during off-peak hours.

      The $740 billion climate bill that is heading to President Joe Biden includes tax credits for purchasing new or used electric vehicles, which could add to the demand.

      Giving drivers an incentive to charge their vehicles overnight, when other customers' demand is down, evens out all power flow through the cooperative's system.

      The combined effect saves the cooperative money - and, said Brad Hicks, president and CEO of the Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, "If they charge their vehicles in the off-peak times, we want to pass those savings on to them."

      To make the program work, NNEC would set up a separate meter for customers' EV charging circuits.

      When they charge their vehicles during off-peak times, they'd get a 2.761 cent per kilowatt hour discount off the residential average rate of 8.451 cents for that electricity. There'd be a surcharge of 0.45 cents, rising to 1.05 cents in the summer when charging an EV during peak periods.

      For a residential customer using the cooperative's average of 1,229 kilowatt hours a month, but needing a typical extra 300 kwh on top of that if charging an EV, the discount would mean a savings of $14.68 a month from what would otherwise be a $212.07 summertime bill and a $192.95 bill during the rest of the year, according to a filing with the State Corporation Commission, which approved the plan last week.

      The surcharge would add $5.54 a month during the summer and $5.36 during the rest of the year if that customer did all of his or her EV charging during peak times.

      The Northern Neck Co-op serves nearly 20,000 customers in parts of six counties on the Northern Neck. More than 750 EVs registered in Virginia are garaged in the cooperative's territory, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles' data compiled by Atlas Public Policy consulting group.

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