Dominion Virginia Power announced yesterday that is waiting for Virginia State Corporation Commission approval to offer two electricity tariffs exclusively to electric vehicle owners in a bid to encourage customers to make the switch to electric cars. 

As we’ve discovered before, more and more utility companies are offering time-of-use tariffs which promote electric vehicle charging at night-time, even if a recent study concluded that tired use policies could dramatically increase the cost of electric vehicle ownership

Participants in the Dominion Virginia Power scheme will be offered two options: a household lower price tariff at night-time, or an electric-vehicle only tariff requiring the installation of a separate electricity meter. 

Dominion Virginia Power hasn’t given us the exact price per kilowatt-hour of electricity on the two tariffs, so we can’t tell you prices per unit of electricity used. Instead they’ve given us the cost required to do an ‘average’ 40 mile commute by electric car. Since the miles-per-kilowatt hour figures for each electric car is different, these figures are subject to interpretation. 

General Electric GE WattStation charging

General Electric GE WattStation charging

With the vague figures Dominion Virginia Power has given us of between 33 and 41 cents to charge an electric vehicle for a 40 mile commute, our very rough calculations estimate a unit price of between 2 and 5 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity if you were to make a fairly carefully driven 40-mile trip in the 2011 Nissan LEAF. 

The two proposed tariffs would represent a cut in cost of over 50% to electric car owners for night-time charging when compared to the utility’s standard domestic rates. 

Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Although Dominion Virginia Power hasn’t specified it, expect day-time rates to be higher to help even out the cost of providing cheaper night-time rates. 

For most consumers that won’t be a problem however, since most homes are empty during the day and use far less electricity. And as Dominion Virginia Power points out, the household-wide lower nighttime tariff can be used to power energy-hungry appliances like dishwashers and tumble-dryers. 

2011 Chevrolet Volt late-night recharging in Little Rock, Arkansas, during July 2010 Freedom Drive

2011 Chevrolet Volt late-night recharging in Little Rock, Arkansas, during July 2010 Freedom Drive

If you live in Virginia you will have to be quick. Each scheme will be limited to 750 participants during the three year pilot scheme. 

Customers will be expected to stay in the scheme for at least a year and should be able to apply for inclusion in the program within 90 days of SCC approval.


[Dominion Virginia Power]