Does anyone know anything about Dominion Energy's solar standby charge (in Virginia) ? All I can find about it is generic information such as "Dominion plans to charge $4.19 per kilowatt for a solar customer's average peak usage of the company's electricity each month" for systems of 10 kilowatts AC or larger.

I currently have a system that is 10.6 kW AC/9.44 kW DC. I'm not getting charged a standby fee, though, despite my system being larger than 10 kW AC - I assume it's because I'm less than 10 kW DC, but I don't know for sure. I'm looking into adding 6 more 300W panels, which would bring me up to 10.6 kW AC/11.24 kW DC and would presumably trigger the standby charge. I don't know what that charge would actually be, though, so I have no idea how to calculate the ROI on the additional panels.

Does anyone know what I might pay in standby charges or what I would need to calculate it?

Calculating your bill

The charges do not depend on the size of your solar system once you have exceeded 10kW, and only apply if you are enrolled in Net Metering billing.

Assuming both of these are true, your standby charge would be

  • $2.68 per kW of demand, less the distribution kWh charge:
    • 2.1558 cents per kWh up to 800 kWh
    • 1.2212 cents per kWh over 800 kWh
  • $1.35 per kW of demand, less the transmission kWh charge of 0.97 cents/kWh

If we assume that in an average month you use 1,000 kWh from the grid*, and your peak monthly demand from the grid* is 10kW, your standby charges would be as follows:

Distribution standby charge:
   2.68     x   10 kW  =   $26.80
 - 0.021558 x  800 kWh = - $17.25
 - 0.012212 x  200 kWh = - $ 2.44
              Total    =   $ 7.11 

Generation standby charge: 
   1.35     x   10 kW  =   $13.50
 - 0.0097   x 1000 kWh = - $ 9.70
              Total    =   $ 3.80

Grand Total:               $10.91

This standby charge is in addition to the already calculated distribution and generation charges -- meaning your bill includes the line items for $17.25, $2.44, and $9.70 calculated above, but you aren't double-charged for them in the standby charge.

In addition, your Rider T1 charge would be the lesser of:

0.001770 x 1000 kWh = $1.77
0.255    x   10 kW  = $2.55

*Usage from the grid vs actual usage

Note that Dominion Energy only sees your net usage and demand from the grid. From their Net Metering FAQ page (emphasis added):

Your electric bill does not show all of the energy your system produced. The energy you produce that is consumed by your home does not pass through the Dominion Energy meter. The net meter measures electricity that is delivered from Dominion Energy to you, and any electricity that is produced by you and returned to the electric grid. The net meter cannot measure the total amount of electricity produced by your system because your home or business uses the electricity produced by the system first, and that electricity does not go through the meter.

This means that if your home's peak demand is 12 kW at a time when your solar system is producing 2 kW, the demand charge assessed by Dominion Energy will be based on the net peak of 10 kW.


Sources

As with all questions about electric rates and incentive programs in the U.S., I started with a look at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. Their page on Net Metering in Virginia led me through a broken link which I finally resolved to the Net Metering FAQs on Dominion Energy Virginia's website, where I found this explanation:

What is the Standby charge?

The standby charge only applies to Net Metering customers served on Virginia Residential Schedule 1 with a generation system size in excess of 10 kW AC.

Residential customers served under Virginia Schedule 1 normally pay for electric system capacity (or electric system demand) through their kilowatt hour rate. This is different from other rate schedules that have a separate demand charge component in the rate.

The standby charge is based on the customer’s generation system size and the customer’s net energy consumption. The standby charge consists of a distribution standby charge, an electricity supply service (transmission) standby charge, and a Rider T1 standby charge. Refer to Virginia Residential Schedule 1 for more details.

Here are the details from Virginia Residential Schedule 1 (pdf):

Standby Charges

Distribution Service Charges:

Plus, where the Customer receives service in accordance with Paragraph XXV – NET METERING of the Company’s TERMS AND CONDITIONS and where the alternating current capacity of the Renewable Fuel Generator exceeds 10 kW, the Customer shall be billed a Distribution Standby Charge of $2.68 per kW of demand, minus the charge under II.A.2., above, but not less than zero.

II.A.2. is the Distribution kWh charge -- 2.1558 cents per kWh for the first 800 kWh, and 1.2212 cents per kWh for each additional kWh.

Electricity Supply Charges:

Plus, where the Customer receives service in accordance with Paragraph XXV – NET METERING of the Company’s TERMS AND CONDITIONS and where the alternating current capacity of the Renewable Fuel Generator exceeds 10 kW, the Customer shall be billed a Transmission Standby Charge of $1.35 per kW of demand, minus the charge under II.B.2.a., above, but not less than zero.

II.B.2.a. is the Transmission kWh charge -- 0.97 cents for each kWh.

Rider charges

In the same rate schedule the Rider charges are mentioned:

Plus, where the Customer receives service in accordance with Paragraph XXV – NET METERING of the Company’s TERMS AND CONDITIONS and where the alternating current capacity of the Renewable Fuel Generator exceeds 10 kW, each measured kW of Demand is subject to all applicable riders, included in the Exhibit of Applicable Riders.

The applicable rider in this case is Rider T1 - Transmission (pdf). The Electricity Supply kWh Charge is 0.1770 cents per kWh, and the Demand Charge is $0.255/kW. The footnote on this schedule says:

Applied to kW of Demand only for net-metering applications where generation is sized above 10 kW. Such installations will pay the Rider T1 energy charge or the Rider T1 demand charge, whichever is less.

  • Thanks, that's helpful. Demand is based solely on my electrical usage and is independent of any solar production I have, while the distribution and generation charges are reduced based on my solar production, right? If that's the case, my standby charge would actually increase as the size of my solar system increased, since the consumption-based charges would go down as my production went up. It seems like any savings I get from adding the 6 additional panels would be offset by the added standby fees, making my ROI negative on the new panels. Is that a correct summary? – Steve Nov 2 at 4:14
  • Reducing peak demand seems like the only way to reduce the standby fees but that also seems very difficult, since running the dryer while my AC is on (for example) even once during a month would peg my demand at a fairly high number, right? – Steve Nov 2 at 4:17
  • @Steve I added some detail on net metering. None of the charges are based on what your solar system produces -- the standby charges are all based on your net consumption and net demand. Once you exceed a system size of 10 kW, you will be assessed standby charges. But as your solar system increases in size above 10 kW, your net usage will necessarily decrease. However if your typical peak occurs at night, this quantity will not be affected by your solar system size. So the "top line" standby charge, based on demand, will not change. – LShaver Nov 2 at 15:12
  • However keep in mind that this analysis only looks at the standby charges -- you'll still be using less power from the grid, reducing your total energy charge. If you can shift some of your load to be during the day -- say, pre-cool your home before the sun goes down, and run your dishwasher and dryer during the day, you'll also reduce your peak. The rider charge is also the lesser of demand or energy, meaning as long as your improve one, your bill will go down. – LShaver Nov 2 at 15:14

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.