Electric Cars Ramping Up in Virginia
With the Chevy Volt officially rolling and other all-electric cars in the pipeline, the official estimate is that over 85,000 electric vehicles will be on Virginia’s roads by 2020 — less than a decade from now.
News today that the powerful State Corporation Commission — which in Virginia covers utilities as well as a vast array of other corporate business — will be considering a proposal from Dominion Power for a pilot pricing program for residential customers who own or lease plug-in electric vehicles.
The proposed program would offer different pricing for different times of day, allowing the utility to offer reduced rates to drivers charging plug-in cars overnight, offset by higher rates during peak usage times.
It’s an important issue. The incoming wave of electric cars, if not managed correctly, could impose stresses on our charging infrastructure. If we do it right, however, we could create a rate structure that becomes second-nature to a new generation of electric drivers, who will plan their days to charge their cars at night. On the other hand, Dominion — and the SCC — need to be careful not to raise rates so much during peak times that charging an electric cars becomes prohibitive.
Alongside this are the new technology-intensive companies that will pay a role in helping drivers manage their energy use and achieve greater efficiencies — there will be many new companies that provide software, in-car computers, and smartphone apps that help manage electric cars.
Almost 100,000 electric cars in Virginia will be an exciting, brave new world — and our power suppliers, and the government that regulates them, should take a balanced approach that encourages industry while managing the increased impact on our grid, and encouraging the new industry that will help Virginia’s electric drivers drive — and charge — smart.