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Comverge CEO reveals big Virginia client, discusses project

August 03, 2009
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Dominion Virginia Power

files plan with regulators

 

Comverge's multi-part deal for smart grid gear and DR services -- announced by the firm last week without revealing the name of the utility (SGT, Jul-31) -- is Dominion Virginia Power, Comverge CEO Michael Picchi told us Friday.  The utility has a proposal for energy efficiency and smart grid initiatives pending with Virginia regulators.

          The technology firm described the deal as a 5-year, 117 mw C&I virtual peaking capacity contract plus an agreement to supply over 150,000 AMI-enabled energy management devices for a residential DR program.

          Under the deal, Comverge will license the use of its Apollo DR management system software to manage both the C&I virtual peaking capacity contract and residential DR programs.

          These contracts will give participating C&I and residential customers the ability to cut load at times of peak power demand, Picchi said.  The IOU will start mobilizing both programs immediately pending regulatory approval by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) and implementation is to start in early 2010.

          "We are a one-stop shop for utilities," said Picchi, citing the deal as "proof."

          Through the virtual peaking capacity contract, Comverge will be the exclusive peak DR provider for Dominion's large C&I customers.

          Comverge will supply over 150,000 residential customers with an AMI-enabled digital control unit, letting them more actively monitor their energy use.

          Both the residential and C&I systems will be managed by Comverge's Apollo software platform.  The platform will allow for seamless integration of future smart grid developments, the firm said.

          Comverge has similar deals with other utilities, Picchi noted.  "In February, we entered into a similar contract with Pepco Holdings for the installation of AMI infrastructure in Maryland and we also have a contract with Progress Energy Carolinas."

          The firm expects to have other utility contracts in place before the end of the year.  "We have a string of impressive wins in terms of contracts with utilities this year but we don't expect this to stop here."

 

            Virginia specs revealed

 

          Virginia Power's filing with the SCC revealed details of the planned project including the projected benefits including energy efficiency initiatives that it believes can save customers $1.2 billion over a 15 years.  If the application is approved, the utility will install about 2.5 million smart meters in the state to cut peak demand by 43 mw/year.

          The utility believes the earliest it will receive a decision on its filing is Feb 1, 2010, a utility spokesperson told us Friday.  "The SCC has an eight-month timetable for reviewing and issuing its decision."

          The IOU believes its energy initiatives will provide multiple benefits to customers.

          "This plan provides a portfolio of 12 energy-saving and demand-reducing programs designed to meet the needs of our customers and move us toward meeting the 10% voluntary energy conservation goal enacted by the Virginia General Assembly and the governor," Virginia Power CEO Paul Koonce told the press.  "It will provide environmental benefits in a cost-effective manner that will also translate into very real financial savings to customers."

          To help cut the costs of the $600 million installation project, the utility will apply to DOE for $200 million in stimulus funds.  The utility plans to have all the smart meters installed by the end of 2012.

          Dominion asked state regulators for approval on a dozen incentive programs that promote energy efficiency including rebates for customers that let the utility adjust air conditioning during peak hours plus rewards for upgrading old heat pumps and replacing inefficient refrigerators.  The programs provide incentives for property developers to build energy-efficient homes and for businesses that generate their own power, upgrade inefficient lighting or replace old HVAC systems.

          "The combination of technology, customer-friendly energy efficiency programs, rate incentives and renewable power are important steps we must take as part of Dominion's 'Powering Virginia' strategy," said Koonce.

          "These programs complement the full range of investments we are making to ensure reliable and affordable energy for the commonwealth."

          To help pay for the programs, Dominion asked that it be allowed to raise rates 9% or 95¢/kwh.

          If SCC approves the plan, the utility expects to have its programs running by April 1 of next year, with customer saving about $1.2 billion by 2024 -- an average of $80 million/year.

          The utility plans to start its smart grid deployment as a demonstration program in Charlottesville.  The $20 million program begins with the installation of about 46,500 smart meters, said the utility spokesperson.  More than half of the meters have been installed, with completion scheduled by the end of this year.

          Charlottesville was picked for its hilly terrain -- a test of the two-way wireless communications capabilities of smart meters, plus it has a mix of residential, business and institutional customers and customers have expressed a high interest in actively managing their own energy use, the spokesperson added.



© 2009 GHI LLC


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