- Dominion Energy on Monday filed a $2.8 billion, 10-year grid modernization plan that includes a "new customer information platform" powered by the rollout of almost 1 million smart meters in the first years.
- The proposal is its second attempt to get grid modernization spending approved. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in January rejected most of the utility's previous plan, which it estimated would cost around $6 billion, for being too expensive and not providing sufficient benefits to consumers.
- Dominion's filing provided a detailed look at how it will implement the plan across the next three years, when it wants to spend to $594 million — a significant reduction from the previous $900 million projection over that time. The utility says it made "refinements" to reduce the cost based on stakeholders engagement and multiple requests for proposals (RFPs).
Dominion wants to create a smarter, more reliable grid, but that hinges on rolling out advanced metering infrastructure across its territory at a price regulators will accept. The utility, in its Monday filing, said it has addressed those concerns.
Dominion told the SCC that since the previous order, the utility issued "multiple requests for proposals across components to strengthen the accuracy and reasonableness of the costs estimates for proposed investments."
The utility also presented a "detailed cost-benefit analysis conducted by an independent, experienced, third-party partner," West Monroe Partners, and solicited "extensive customer feedback through customer surveys and a series of stakeholder meetings."
When the SCC previously rejected Dominion's plan, they priced it at $6 billion. The utility, however, says that included financing and other costs, and it would have come out around $3.07 billion in capital expenditures and operating and maintenance costs.
"It is hard to get to an apples to apples comparison," Dominion spokesperson Rayhan Daudani told Utility Dive.Since the SCC rejected the previous plan, Dominion's RFPs "gave some more surety behind the numbers," he noted.
Last year's filing included $314 million for smart meters, which the utility has now cut to $196.6 million — though some costs were shifted to other "buckets," Daudani said. Customer education, for instance, was made its own cost.
The new plan also includes electric vehicle charging pilots, which stakeholders identified as a key to helping reduce transportation emissions. Programs will focus on rideshare electrification, as well as charging at multi-family communities, workplaces, transit bus depots and fast-charging locations.
The utility will also make two energy efficiency filings later this year, but those costs are separate from yesterday's grid transformation filing.
Virginia regulators have not been the first to balk at the cost of smart meters — commissions in Kentucky and Massachusetts have also pushed back. Deployment of advanced meters has stalled at roughly 50% of electric customers in the nation, but utilities maintain they are essential to a more modern grid.
Dominion's application says its full AMI deployment over a six-year period beginning this year, will ultimately install 2.1 million meters and 3,100 network devices in its Virginia territory by 2024.