Most folks don't realize the convenience of their electric service until it's not there. Fortunately, customers of Old Dominion Power experience safer, more reliable service thanks to continued improvements in the company's energy infrastructure.
These improvements — including equipment that detects outages, stronger poles and wires, and efforts to meet environmental regulations — will allow the company to continue providing safe and reliable service to customers at ODP, the name under which Kentucky Utilities operates in Virginia. All total, Kentucky Utilities has invested or will invest nearly $1.4 billion in capital from July 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2020, into KU's electric system in Kentucky and Virginia.
To continue these investments in safe, reliable service and enhance offerings for customers, ODP will request approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission for a cost-based rate increase of $12.7 million. Residential electric customers, using 1,285 kWh per month, would see an increase of $28.93 per month.
"Customers are most interested in our keeping the lights on and bills reasonable, so we must strike a solid balance of investments and prudent costs," said Paul W. Thompson, chairman, CEO and president. "We carefully evaluate each project to ensure we are providing the best value for safe, reliable service."
Electric grid investments = reliability improvements
As a result of investments in the utility's system, customers are experiencing improvements in reliability. In the last 10 years, ODP has seen interruptions in electric service decline by 28%.
Key to more improvements in reliability are continued investments in smart, restoration-detection equipment on the electric distribution system and similar equipment on the high-voltage transmission system. Reliability has steadily improved by replacing older transmission equipment — including aging wooden poles with more durable steel poles — and installing newer circuit breakers and other components essential for reliable service. Those investments, along with cycle-based vegetation management and the hazardous tree removal program that removes dead and decaying trees that potentially could fall into ODP's electric lines, continue to help reduce outages.
Power plant investments
Kentucky Utilities' generating units continue to operate favorably compared to average top quartile performance for benchmarked utilities. Investments in power plant projects have improved overall generation performance and reliability. New cooling towers are being built at Ghent Generating Station, a replacement gas line is being installed for the combustion turbines at E.W. Brown Generating Station, and ongoing inspections and maintenance ensure the units continue to operate at optimal levels.
Proposed "Economic Development and Green Tariff" supports area's growth
ODP is proposing offering a business-attracting "Economic Development and Green Tariff." In the July 12 filing, ODP requests a tariff to further promote renewable energy growth and economic development in the region.
"Green tariffs are used to attract new businesses and jobs. Companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon Web Services, Walmart and Target are all examples of companies that have taken advantage of green tariffs," Thompson said. "We understand the need for economic growth in the region and are trying, by offering options to help companies meet their sustainability goals, to encourage new business to expand or locate to the region."
If approved, the new rates would go into effect in April 2020.