Dominion Virginia Power is projected to experience an increase in customer demand for electricity of nearly 28 percent during the next decade, the fastest growth rate in a 13-state region that stretches from Chicago to the District of Columbia and the Mid-Atlantic.

The outlook is contained in the annual load forecast by PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization, for the period from 2010 to 2020. The growth rate for PJM as a whole is forecast to be more than 18 percent over the same period.

"The PJM study is both encouraging and challenging," said Paul D. Koonce, Dominion Virginia Power chief executive officer. "It shows sustained economic growth, which is good for Virginia and its people. But it also confirms what we have been saying for quite some time: there is a need to make significant investments in the commonwealth's energy generation, transmission and efficiency infrastructure."

On an annual basis, the study forecasts a 2.5 percent increase in summer demand for Dominion, which is slightly higher than the 2.2 percent rate in last year's study.

Dominion plans to meet the increased demand through a balanced program that includes:

  • Construction of new generating facilities, including those using renewable energy sources, and upgrades of existing generating units;
  • Programs to help customers use energy more efficiently and reduce their demand for electricity at peak times, including very hot or cold days; and
  • Improvements to the electric transmission and distribution system.

According to PJM, Dominion's summer peak demand for electricity is expected to increase over the 2010-2020 period by more than 5,600 megawatts, which is an amount of power equivalent to the needs of 1.4 million new homes at peak. Dominion currently serves 2.4 million retail electric customers in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

Dominion expects to spend $4 billion over the next three years in a capital investment program that includes two major generating stations now under construction: a state-of-the-art hybrid power station in Wise County, Virginia, using clean-coal technology and biomass; and a gas-powered generating facility in Buckingham County, Virginia. The two power stations will supply 1,175 megawatts once both are in operation by 2012.

Even with the addition of those two stations, Dominion must still meet about 4,450 megawatts of increased peak demand either through construction or energy efficiency measures.

The company is seeking approval of the State Corporation Commission to implement a series of energy efficiency programs.

"Our job is clear," Koonce said. "We need to develop new sources of generation and we need to provide our customers products, services and programs that deliver energy to them more efficiently and allow them to make wise energy decisions."