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Keeping energy affordable matters just as much as keeping it reliable. To do that, Dominion Energy pursues a three-part strategy: making smart investments, maximizing the efficiency of our operations, and offering generous assistance programs. In addition, the company’s economic development efforts also make energy more affordable by raising living standards.
We work hard to make our operations as efficient as possible. Such efforts, along with sound management in general — Dominion Energy has been named to the Management Top 250 by The Wall Street Journal, and ranks second out of seven gas or electric utilities on that list — have helped keep our rates low. For example, in terms of both residential and industrial rates, Dominion Energy Virginia continues to be one of the most affordable providers of electricity in the country. (For further details, see chart below.)
Retiring Less-Efficient Units
One way we do this is by retiring older, less-efficient generation units, which produces savings not only in operation and maintenance but also fuel costs. Because fuel costs are passed on directly to the consumer, our customers receive the full benefit of savings on fuel.
Extending Millstone’s Service
On the other hand, sometimes, the smartest move is not to shut down a generation source but to keep it running. In 2018, our Millstone Power Station faced the risk of closure because of rising costs and increasing competition from gas-fired generation. Dominion Energy worked with the state of Connecticut to enable Millstone to compete in energy auctions as a zero-carbon power source, and ultimately reached a 10-year deal to provide power to regional utilities.
Analysis by Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority found that out of several different scenarios, keeping Millstone operating offered consumers the lowest cost while still controlling greenhouse-gas emissions. For further details, see this report’s section on Carbon-Free Nuclear.
In 2018, we launched a program called Buy Smart — an initiative to promote sustainability and cost-saving across the company. The goal is to save $100 million annually by 2020. In 2019, we achieved more than 75 percent of that goal, saving a total of $77 million through collaboration between our supply-chain management team and our business units. To cite just one example: In Dominion Energy South Carolina, we reduced the installation time frame for installing exciters in our Fairfield Pump Static Excitation System from four years to two, lowering costs from $3.5 million to $2.6 million. For 2019, we also reaped $65 million in indirect savings through cost avoidance and strategic sourcing.
We also pursue savings through an effort called Envision Tomorrow. The aim of the program is to encourage thinking differently and foster innovative ideas that could improve a process or increase operational efficiency. Envision Tomorrow promotes those ideas across the enterprise, so the full value can be harnessed by other business units as best practices.
Dominion Energy has maintained competitive energy rates for many years. In July 2008, Dominion Energy Virginia’s typical residential bill was $107.20 per month. As of June 1, 2020, the typical monthly residential bill was $116.69. That increase of less than 9 percent compares favorably with the 17 percent increase the Consumer Price Index over the same time frame.
What’s more, rates for Dominion Energy Virginia and Dominion Energy South Carolina (as of May 2020) remain below the averages for the nation, the East Coast, the Middle Atlantic region, and the New England region.
We are constantly seeking ways to lower the cost of energy even further. For instance, in addition to the various demand-side-management programs discussed elsewhere in this report we also introduced LED streetlights in Virginia as an alternative to replace traditional sodium vapor and metal halide streetlights. This helps localities reduce energy consumption and lower their bills.
Affordability depends on two variables: the price of a good or service, and the financial resources of the purchaser. In addition to all that Dominion Energy does to keep its rates reasonable, the company also plays an active role in economic development. The job creation and increased tax bases from businesses that expand or that choose to locate in our service areas increase personal income and tax revenues, which raises overall living standards. And this makes all goods and services — not just energy — more affordable for the communities that we serve.
Attractive Business Environment
Dominion Energy’s competitive rates, strong reliability, and growing portfolio of renewable generation have drawn major business investments to our service territory. For instance: Dozens of data centers have clustered in Northern Virginia, the largest data center market in the world and one through which — by some estimates — as much as 70 percent of all Internet traffic passes. (In 2019, Dominion Energy connected 26 data centers, for an average of one data facility every two weeks.) In late 2018, Amazon chose Arlington, Va., as one of the two locations (along with New York City) for new Eastern headquarters that will employ more than 25,000 people at each site. In 2019, Dominion Energy supported more than $5 billion in capital expenditures associated with new facilities or the expansion of existing facilities in the commonwealth, along with 1,175 jobs created by the companies constructing such facilities.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We really need to take steps to make sure Virginia makes the most of it.”
Our plans to build more than 2,600 megawatts of wind generation 27 miles off Virginia’s coast also will boost economic growth. For example, Siemens Gamesa is contemplating a $200-million blade factory in Hampton Roads, and production and services related to offshore wind could create additional employment opportunities. The project represents not only a means to continue driving down carbon emissions, but also a once-in-a-generation economic-development opportunity for Eastern Virginia. In this time of joblessness and financial uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, clean-energy jobs have the potential to serve as a catalyst to re-ignite the economy.
“This project propels Virginia to national leadership in America's transition to clean energy. It's also shaping a new industry that will bring thousands of new clean energy jobs to Virginia. By working together, Virginia is shaping an investment that's good for workers, good for business, and good for the American economy.”
Support for Growth
In Connecticut, our Millstone Power Station not only provides power to 2 million homes; it also generates more than $1.3 billion in annual economic benefits and supports roughly 4,800 jobs. According to a report by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the power station’s benefits extend even further than that: It generates another $1.3 billion in annual economic output — and supports more than 7,300 jobs — in New England states beyond Connecticut.
In Maryland, our Cove Point LNG terminal has provided substantial revenue to Calvert County, including 20 percent of all taxes for fiscal 2020.
Our natural gas operations in Utah and Ohio also support economic growth; the installation of almost 20 miles of pipe in 2019 has increased capacity to the rapidly growing Wasatch Front in Utah, for instance.
The least expensive power is the power you conserve. Energy conservation and efficiency are important, so we have put a variety of programs in place to enhance them. In some cases, we actually pay customers to consume less energy.
Our energy conservation and efficiency programs in our Virginia and North Carolina electric service areas include:
- Smart Cooling Rewards, through which homeowners receive a $40 bill credit annually for cycling their air conditioning on high-use days;
- The Income and Age-Qualifying Home Improvement program, which provides in-home energy assessments and energy-saving products such as lightbulbs, shower heads, faucet aerators, and insulation at no cost to the customer;
- The Small Business Improvement program, which provides energy assessments and recommendations for greater efficiency;
- The Non-Residential Prescriptive program, which offers rebates to Dominion Energy business customers for energy-efficiency improvements;
- The Non-Residential Distributed Generation program, which pays customers to reduce their electricity consumption by using on-site backup generators during periods of peak demand;
- The Residential Appliance Recycling program, which provides incentives to eligible residential customers to recycle specific types of qualifying freezers and refrigerators that are of specific of age and size. Appliance pick-up and proper recycling services are included;
- The Residential Efficient Products Marketplace Program, which provides eligible residential customers an incentive to purchase specific energy-efficient appliances with a rebate through an online marketplace and through participating retail stores. The program offers rebates for the purchase of specific energy-efficient appliances, including lighting efficiency upgrades, reflectors, decoratives, globes, retrofit kit and fixtures, as well as other appliances such as freezers, refrigerators, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, clothes dryers, and dishwashers;
- The Residential Home Energy Assessment Program, which provides qualifying residential customers with an incentive to install a variety of energy-saving measures following completion of a walk-through home energy assessment. The energy-saving measures include replacement of existing light bulbs with LED bulbs, heat pump tune-up, duct insulation/sealing, fan motors upgrades, installation of efficient faucet aerators and showerheads, water heater turndown, replacement of electric domestic hot water with heat pump water heater, heat pump upgrades, and water heater and pipe insulation;
- The Non-Residential Lighting Systems & Controls program, which provides qualifying non-residential customers with an incentive to implement more efficient lighting technologies that can produce verifiable savings. The program promotes the installation of lighting technologies including LED-based bulbs and lighting control systems;
- The Non-Residential Heating and Cooling Efficiency program, which provides qualifying non-residential customers with incentives to implement new, and upgrade existing, high-efficiency heating and cooling system equipment to more efficient HVAC technologies that can produce verifiable savings;
- The Non-Residential Window Film program, which provides qualifying non-residential customers with incentives to install solar reduction window film to lower their cooling bills and improve occupant comfort;
- The Non-Residential Small Manufacturing program, which provides qualifying non-residential customers with incentives for the installation of energy efficiency improvements, consisting of primarily compressed air systems measures for small manufacturing facilities; and
- The Non-Residential Office program, which provides qualifying non-residential customers with incentives for the installation of energy efficiency improvements, consisting of recommissioning measures at smaller office facilities.
In the company’s gas service areas:
- ThermWise, which provides energy consultation and related services (for more, see below);
- Housewarming, which provides inspections and weatherization to low-income customers;
- GreenTherm®, through which customers can support the use of GHG-reducing renewable natural gas; and
- Home Performance with EnergyStar, which provides energy-efficiency upgrades at no cost to the customer (for more, see below).
Further, in South Carolina, we offer a host of energy efficiency options, including financial incentives to upgrade to more efficient lighting, HVAC, food-service and custom project solutions for homes and businesses (including restaurants and hotels).
In Utah, we supported changes to the state’s Sustainable Transportation & Energy Plan (STEP) to encourage the use of RNG and other sustainability initiatives involving natural gas. A primary objective will be to improve Utah’s air quality in the Wasatch Front. This option will include supporting the conversion of wood-burning stoves to natural gas as a cleaner alternative to help reduce air pollution.
Pursuant to an energy efficiency standard established by the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Dominion Energy’s forthcoming energy efficiency programs will be designed and implemented with annual goals for energy savings in mind.
Unfortunately, low utility rates are not always enough to compensate for the curveballs that life can throw at our customers. For those hit by sudden financial hardship, we offer a variety of energy-assistance programs to see them through until they can get back on their feet. For example, Dominion Energy West Virginia partnered with Dollar Energy through the local Salvation Army and with the West Virginia Office of Economic Opportunity weatherization program, contributing more than $125,000 annually to assist income-eligible customers. Through an array of larger programs, Dominion Energy operating companies provide substantial support to the communities that we serve.
There When You Need Us
Mr. Danny Burno, a 6-year Navy veteran, and his wife Melissa were using kerosene heaters to warm their home last winter. Their financial troubles started in December 2015 when Mr. Burno suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on the left side of his body and unable to work.
Their gas heater wasn’t working properly, causing their gas bill to become unmanageable. Eventually they fell behind on their payments and their service was disconnected. Desperate for assistance, the Burnos reached out to the community and learned about EnergyShare.
EnergyShare was able to cover the balance of their electric and gas bills and have their services restored. The gas furnace had to be replaced, so in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Beach-based community action agency, STOP, Inc., the Burnos were able to get a new gas heating unit, a water heater, and insulation for their attic.
“I could shout for joy,” Mrs. Burno said.
The EnergyShare program began as a heating assistance program in Virginia in 1982 to help those in need with their energy bills during the cold winter months. It later expanded to include North Carolina customers. In 2008, the Virginia program expanded to a year-round assistance program that also included cooling assistance.
100 Homes 100 Vets
Since the program’s expansion in 2015, EnergyShare has helped more than 5,900 veterans. In late 2018 we launched a special initiative, “100 Homes 100 Vets,” to provide free energy-efficiency upgrades, home repairs, and education on keeping energy bills low.
In 2019 Dominion Energy completed the Vets initiative, providing free energy efficiency upgrades and home improvements for more than 100 qualified military veterans, and surpassing the program goal by identifying an additional 32 recipients for assistance. The initiative also offered veterans an opportunity to learn improved energy management practices to save on their home energy costs.
Virginia law expanded EnergyShare in 2015 to include additional bill assistance, free weatherization services, and increased outreach and education in the community. Weatherization upgrades such as LED lights, attic insulation, and efficient shower heads and faucet aerators provide sustainable relief on customer energy bills, making them more manageable. The additional funding also enabled programs specifically aimed at military veterans and persons living with disabilities, as well as those experiencing extreme crises.
In 2018, the commonwealth’s Grid Transformation and Security Act enhanced the program further when Dominion Energy Virginia committed $130 million to EnergyShare through 2028 to continue helping customers in need.
Since its inception, EnergyShare has helped more than 843,000 individuals and families living in Virginia with bill assistance and provided more than 13,000 homes with weatherization upgrades. In 2019, EnergyShare contributed more than $13.6 million in assistance to nearly 29,000 households in Virginia and North Carolina. (The EnergyShare program year runs from June 1 through May 31.)
In Ohio, EnergyShare offers gas assistance to help customers with their heating bills once government assistance has run out. Ohio EnergyShare partners with the Salvation Army to review requests and determine eligibility. If the request is approved, the energy supplier bill is paid directly, at no cost to the customer.
Ohio’s EnergyShare has raised nearly $7.3 million, helping about 80,000 people in its first 18 years. During the 2018-19 heating season, nearly 4,090 people in 1,720 households received a total $395,000 in EnergyShare assistance.
Mrs. V is a single mom with 3-year-old twin girls and a 5-year-old son who has a disability. When she was laid off from her job, the nonprofit Resources for Independent Living helped her with community resources for food, household items, and job training.
She was “overjoyed” when her case manager connected her to EnergyShare. Not having to worry about paying the electric bill enables her to use more of her resources to care for her three children. The support from EnergyShare has resulted in one less thing to worry about as she focuses on her family and her future goals.
With the acquisition of former SCANA companies, Project Share has transitioned into our EnergyShare program in South Carolina. In 2019, it provided $155,000 worth of assistance to 220 households. Since 1986, the program has provided more than 47,500 households with approximately $9.2 million in energy assistance.
ThermWise is an energy-efficiency program in our Western operations that reminds customers, “If you conserve, you can save.” ThermWise provides visits by experts to design in-home energy conservation plans. Customers who need them receive free energy-saving tools such as household pipe insulation and low-flow shower heads. ThermWise provides cash rebates to customers who install energy-efficient appliances or make weatherization improvements such as insulation, new windows, and duct sealing.
The program has conducted nearly 3,000 weatherization inspections and provided more than 30,000 home energy plans. In 2018, ThermWise program spending was $23.4 million with 74 percent of the total being used for rebates to customers for the installation of high-efficiency natural-gas equipment, home weatherization improvements, and generation and delivery of customer energy comparison reports. These activities resulted in saving more than 950,000 dekatherms (Dth) in 2018 — the equivalent of annual natural gas consumption by roughly 12,000 residential homes.
ThermWise also provides funds for extensive home retrofits and furnace and duct replacements for low-income customers in Utah and Idaho. These funds, administered by the states’ low-income assistance agencies, have totaled more than $5.5 million in the 13-year history of the program. As of the end of 2018, cumulative natural gas savings from ThermWise total 7.6 million Dth — equivalent to the annual consumption of roughly 95,000 residential homes. A total of $229 million in incentives has been paid to Dominion Energy customers.
Nearly 80,000 customers participated in the ThermWise programs in 2019 and achieved natural gas savings of greater than 1.1 million Dth. Over $23.5 million was spent for energy-efficiency programs. The natural gas savings were equivalent to more than 58,000 metric tons of CO2 avoided in 2019.
Dominion Energy’s GreenTherm program provides customers with an affordable way to combat climate change by supporting carbon-beneficial renewable natural gas.
Good Neighbor Fund
The Good Neighbor Fund is a non-profit organization funded by South Carolina and North Carolina employees (and the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation) who are committed to providing financial assistance to needy families facing unexpected tragedies or emergencies. In 2019, the Good Neighbor Fund aided 215 households with a total of $138,014. Since its inception in 1982, the program has assisted more than 12,900 families with donations of more than $4.9 million.
In addition, its annual Christmas Project helps 900 families in our South Carolina and North Carolina service territories with a 40-pound food basket and toys for children in the household. Referrals to the program are made by employees.
Dominion Energy Ohio’s Housewarming Program, which offers help to low-income customers, has a $6.5 million annual budget. Through a third-party vendor, the Housewarming Program provides health and safety inspections on furnaces, boilers, space heaters, hot water tanks, stoves and other appliances. Home improvements, including weatherization, follow. The average cost to weatherize a home is approximately $4,600; however, there is no cost to the customer. The third-party vendor accesses multiple assistance programs available to the customer to ensure that all recommended improvements can be made.
In 2019, the Housewarming Program made 1,647 home assessments and spent $6.5 million helping customers. Since 2015, Housewarming has provided weatherization services valued at $32.5 million to more than 8,500 residences. Dominion Energy also made a $150,000 donation to Salvation Army Heat Care. The Heat Care program provides support for families in need during the heating season to help them with utility bills. DENC and its customers have supported the program for nearly four decades.
Home Performance with EnergyStar
In Ohio, Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) provides home assessments that include diagnostic and safety testing, the installation of free energy-efficiency products such as high-efficiency shower heads and pipe wrap, and rebates worth up to $1,250 for additional energy-saving home improvements such as insulation, duct sealing, and natural gas furnaces and water heaters. The cost to the customers is $50 plus an additional $50 if they opt to have a Nest Thermostat installed.
In 2019, HPwES outlays to help customers topped $3.7 million. The program arranged for 4,935 assessments, and 3,455 rebates worth more than $1.3 million. In addition, we installed 930 NEST Smart Thermostats. From 2016 through 2019, HPwES performed over 14,500 assessments and provided rebates of more than $3.3 million.
Helping the Helpers
Sometimes those who help others could use a little help themselves. In West Virginia, Dominion Energy and our employees have offered support to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh and Morgantown.
In February 2019, Dominion Energy donated $10,000 to its house in Morgantown. In June 2019, almost three dozen Dominion Energy employees spent a day fixing up the Morgantown house where families of seriously ill children can stay while their children receive treatment.