WHERE YOUR POWER COMES FROM
Do you know where your energy comes from? In Virginia, electricity is generated from a variety of energy sources, including nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, renewables, petroleum and other sources. According to the U.S. Energy information Administration (EIA), the majority of Virginia’s electricity is generated from natural gas (62%), nuclear (27.7%) and coal (2.8%) The remainder comes from hydroelectric, renewables, petroleum and other sources.
BIGGEST SOURCES OF ELECTRICITY DEMAND
Virginia’s overall per capita energy consumption ranks 31st among states, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This includes energy consumed by homes and businesses, as well as what is consumed by the transportation and industrial sectors.
Energy consumption takes into consideration the sum of all sources used to generate electricity, fuel vehicles and transportation systems, and keep critical infrastructure operating.
Virginia has made progress in reducing its energy consumption, and this is reflected by a recent drop in EIA’s state-by-state ranking of energy consumption per capita. Electricity consumption, which is a significant part of overall energy use in Virginia, decreased two percent from 2004-2014. This is notable because the state’s population grew by 10 percent during the same time.
WHERE WE USE THE MOST ENERGY
- Heating and cooling, typically the largest energy users in homes and businesses
- Appliances, especially refrigerators, dishwashers and dryers, which together account for about 20% of all energy used in homes
- Water heating, on average nine percent of all energy used in the home
- Lighting, the largest energy user in the commercial sector and nine percent of power used in homes
- Electronics, an area where demand is increasing because of computers, larger and more sophisticated televisions, digital media and appliances
Residential. Virginia homes are the second largest end-user of energy in Virginia at 26.4% of all consumption. Virginia’s per capita residential sector energy consumption is ranked 22nd highest in the nation.
Commercial. Virginia businesses are the third largest end-user of energy in Virginia at 25.3% of all consumption. Virginia’s per capita commercial sector energy consumption is ranked 9th highest in the nation.
Industrial/Government. While Virginia’s utilities serve several large industrial customers, including major military bases, one of the largest ports in the United States, and a large share of the computer infrastructure supporting the Internet, its per capita industrial sector energy consumption is ranked 38th highest in the nation.
Transportation. Virginia’s transportation sector consumes the greatest amount of energy in the state at 29.6% of total energy use. Despite this, the state is ranked 25th in the nation in per capita transportation sector energy consumption.
Rising peak demand can strain the electricity system and potentially hurt the reliability of the power grid. Some utilities have implemented demand response programs, which give commercial and residential energy consumers incentives to lower their power use when electricity use is especially high, such as on a hot summer day. These programs help ensure an adequate electricity supply and can prevent power outages.
Demand response improves the overall efficiency of the electricity system (including transmission and distribution) but differs from traditional energy efficiency in that it is more dynamic and controllable, meaning that it can be “dispatched” to meet rising demand in lieu of turning on a power plant.
Demand response focuses primarily on reducing use during the peak period, and involves providing customers with price signals or time‐based incentives to encourage them to reduce their peak use. Demand response can also react to infrequent conditions or threats to system reliability, like blackouts. All of these responses are coordinated through various technologies that allow utility providers to monitor and adjust usage, such as smart meters.
Depending on location within the Commonwealth, Virginia residential customers are eligible for a number of rate schedules, including experimental rates. The average rates vary by time of day and season, depending on fluctuation of the cost to generate or deliver electricity, and as demands on the system rise and fall. There are also programs in Virginia allowing commercial energy consumers to participate in demand response programs. Check with your utility provider to see if you’re eligible for demand response programs.