I’m a bit behind the news, but after seeing a presentation recently by a Dominion Power representative, I went and looked up what our sole electricity provider is doing for the environment. I’m excited to report that they have begun a pilot program in Charlottesville to install smart meters with the goal of creating a whole smart grid for improved electricity monitoring. I think this is a sign of the future. Our current electrical grid system is basically the same technology we had 100 years ago! It’s time that we had the ability to better gauge consumption use. One of the key advantages of smart metering is the ability to charge variable rates at different times of the day. By implementing variable rates, people can start to track energy use based on excess load times. For example, run appliances (dishwasher, dryer) at night when loads are low.

Net Metering
If you happen to generate electricity from your own home, you can put that extra energy back on the grid for others to use. With a smart grid in place, I think Dominion should encourage this technology as a means for reducing loads on the grid. For this to happen, we will need lower-cost and improved PV and wind systems. Current incentives (see other post) are currently helping get more energy onto the grid. Latitude 38 has not yet purchased renewable energy systems for our homes. Given the relatively smaller size of our houses (~2000 SF), we have found money is better spent on high efficiency heat pumps, tight ducts, proper blown insulation and insulated windows. Solar water heaters appear to be the most cost competitive of these renewable energy sources and we are considering the payback of these systems.

Dominion VA Green Power
If you are still net negative energy, you can still support renewable energy by signing up for renewable energy through Dominion. You have to pay $.015 extra per kW. For a usage of 1000 kW/month, it would be a $15.00 increase. The request does not mean that energy will go direct to your house from a renewable source. The amount you need supplied is purchased in RECs (Renewable Energy Credits). In Virginia, we must purchase RECs from other geographic areas, rather than put renewable energy directly onto the grid, as we do not have many sources of renewable energy in close proximity.