February 16, 2012, Northern Virginia -- The Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative has launched its Green Energy Initiative to encourage customer-owners to embrace renewable energy and energy conservation. The initiative includes time-of-use rates and Renewable Energy Certificates. These programs will add to NOVEC's existing green programs: load management, recycling, and a biomass plant under construction in Halifax County, Va.
“The Co-op has been supporting wise energy use since the oil embargo in the 1970s made the U.S. realize we were too dependent on foreign energy resources,” states Gil Jaramillo, NOVEC's manager of Business Development and Energy Services. “We began a load management program in 1979 to shift peak demand usage to off-peak times during extremely hot and cold days. We stepped up our materials recycling program and urged customers to look for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping for appliances. A few years ago, we replaced old lighting fixtures with new, energy-saving ones in all our offices. Today we're hoping to go even further with the greening of Northern Virginia.”
NOVEC is looking for 300 residential and 300 small-commercial customers who will volunteer for a pilot time-of-use program. The program will give participants a slight discount on electricity consumed during off-peak hours. Peak hours are between 1-6 p.m. on weekdays from June through September. Off-peak hours are all other hours throughout the year.
Consuming electricity during off-peak hours saves money for NOVEC and its customers, especially on very hot days when customers use a lot of energy to stay cool.
“It's a question of supply and demand,” explains Jaramillo. “When energy demand is at its highest, typically during the late afternoon on summer days, we must have supply. That means power plants must be available to deliver electricity for a few hours a day when demand is greatest. Unfortunately, we don't have the technology to store electricity for extreme-weather days. But if customers run their washers, dryers, and dishwashers in the morning or in the evening when demand is lower – and adjust their air-conditioner thermostats to use less energy when demand is highest – we may not need to build more expensive power plants that simply stand by. Keeping power plants running on-hold, like a car idling, is very expensive.”
Jaramillo says programmable thermostats allow customers to program their heating and cooling systems to use less power while they are away from home.
For more information about the pilot time-of-use program, contact the energy services staff Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 703-392-1503 or [email protected].
Renewable Energy Certificates
A renewable energy certificate represents the property rights to one megawatt-hour (1,000 kilowatt-hours) of electricity generated by a renewable-energy facility. RECs allow consumers to support renewable-energy development even though electricity generated from green resources is not available locally.
NOVEC's residential customers may purchase RECs at a rate of $0.015 per kilowatt-hour. They must purchase RECs equal to their total monthly kWh consumption. For example: If John Green uses 1,000 kWh per month and he wants to purchase RECs, his electric bill would increase by 1,000 x $0.015 or $15 per month.
NOVEC will seek approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission this spring to sell RECs to the Co-op's commercial customers this summer.
Jaramillo says, “The Co-op has always been environmentally conscious, and with all of the green energy programs we have, our customers can help the environment while helping the nation become more energy independent.”
For more information about NOVEC's green energy programs, contact Energy Services.
* RECs serve the role of laying claim to and accounting for the associated attributes of renewable-based generation. The REC and the associated underlying physical electricity take separate pathways to the point of end use. As renewable generators produce electricity, they have a positive impact, reducing the need for fossil fuel-based generation sources to meet consumer demand. RECs embody these positive environmental impacts and convey these benefits to the REC owner. (Green Power Partnership, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)