By Sally Voth
Dominion Virginia Power customers will see their electric bills go up about a dollar this month.
A 98-cent increase being added to typical 1,000-kilowatt-hour residential bills will help the company pay for several projects. That increase was approved in March by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
However, Dominion Virginia Power will not be seeking an increase in its base rates over the next two years. Those rates haven't gone up in more than two decades, and can only be adjusted once every two years, according to a Dominion news release.
Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen said Wednesday the company was "absolutely" happy the base rates have been kept down.
Base rates account for about 60 percent of a customer's bill, and fund Dominion's non-operational costs, employee salaries and some of its earnings.
The remainder of the bill helps pay fuel costs for power stations, conservation efforts, transmission facilities and new stations, and can be adjusted periodically. According to the news release, other rate adjustments of about 3 percent are expected this year.
Pridgen said Dominion uses a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours for comparison purposes. The typical monthly fee for that person is $107.22, up 2 cents from July 2008.
According to the release, "This same bill has gone up 25 percent since 1992, while fuel oil has increased 325 percent, gasoline 198 percent and the average national electricity rate 57 percent over the same period."
It notes "major storms, an earthquake and other factors" cost the firm more than $450 million during the past two years.
Dominion studies weather patterns to make preparations for outages, Pridgen said.
"We have meteorologists on staff that look at the weather patterns seven days out," she said. "They give us sort of an idea what to expect weather-wise. From there, we prepare in anticipation of the storm.
"We have our trucks supplied with materials and they're fueled. We have crews on standby, and if we think it's going to be a big event, additional crews on standby, and we even bring in contractors if we need to."
Pridgen said Dominion encourages its customers to conserve energy in their homes, and provides tips on its website, www.dom.com.
Summer energy conservation tips include keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees, keeping shades down when running the air conditioners, saving activities that use hot water and a lot of energy for early morning or late evening, and using cold water on dishes and clothes, according to the website.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org