Dominion Virginia Power is spending $4 billion over three years to improve and expand its ability to provide reliable electric service to its customers.

In a letter to the company's 2.3 million customers, Chief Executive Officer Paul D. Koonce described how the company is focusing on electric circuits and areas where service reliability does not achieve the systemwide average, which reached 99.9 percent in 2009.

"Keeping your lights on safely, efficiently and at a reasonable cost are my highest priorities as Dominion Virginia Power chief executive officer," Koonce said in his first letter to customers since becoming CEO in June. The letter is being included with bills sent to Virginia customers in January.

A major part of ensuring electric reliability is having sufficient generating capability. To keep up with growing demand for electricity, the company is adding clean, new gas-fired generating units and a state-of-the-art hybrid coal station, in addition to renewable power sources. Major environmental improvements also have been made to older stations to reduce their emissions.

Dominion's distribution system reliability has been improving since 2004, primarily through identifying and focusing on circuits where interruptions are more frequent.

Last year Dominion Virginia Power "reconditioned over 350 miles of electrical circuits, including installing more than 1,000 new poles, 3,500 new lightning arrestors and other devices," Koonce said.

The letter also pointed out that the company has enhanced its Web site, www.dom.com, in response to customer feedback and has improved customer care agent availability to ensure customer needs are being met as they transact business by phone. The company receives about 7 million calls a year and more than 12 million Web site visits.

Reporting on the company's environmental commitment, Koonce said Dominion has invested more than $2 billion in recent years on advanced pollution-control equipment to reduce emissions and meet new, more stringent environmental requirements.

In addition, the company has committed to meeting Virginia's goal of achieving 15 percent of its electricity sales from renewable sources in 2025 and to reducing the growth in customer demand for electricity by 10 percent over the next 12 years.

Meeting these goals will be a challenge, Koonce said. Despite the recession, "customers are using more power, lending credence to the forecast that demand will rebound as the economy recovers."

To help meet the conservation goal, Dominion Virginia Power will begin offering new energy efficiency programs this year to assist residential and business customers in saving energy and money and in helping to protect the environment.

High-technology digital meters are now being installed in some areas of Virginia as part of a demonstration project that will be expanded throughout the state if approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Koonce said these smart meters hold "great promise" for saving energy and helping customers save money on their bills over the long haul.

The new CEO said the company is committed to being a good corporate citizen. The Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources, provided more than $10 million in grants to civic and environmental cleanup projects in Virginia in 2009. Company employees contributed more than 120,000 hours of volunteer service to hundreds of programs in Virginia and other states served by Dominion.

In closing, Koonce said that Dominion is proudly celebrating a birthday this year in recognition of the company powering Virginia for 100 years.

"While much has changed over the past century, we remain committed to providing reliable electric service at the flip of a switch," he said.