Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Energy
Department of Energy
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3/20/23  9:39 am
Commenter: Matthew Salmon, Virginia Tech Electric Service (VTES)

VTES 40101(d) GRIPs

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) has taken the initiative to significantly reduce the carbon footprint and efficiently integrate DERs into Virginia Tech Electric Service (VTES) utility. This will require a significant transformation of our system by including equipment capable of enhanced awareness and coordinated, instantaneous and intelligent response to ever-changing conditions. We must be able to accommodate the proposed renewables and distributed energy; have a stainable system that is resilient to natural disasters and man-made attacks; be efficient in meeting increased demand without infrastructure upgrades; provide a safe environment for the public and utility workers; provide improved power quality for complex digital consumption (IEDs, TVs, smartphones, EVCs, etc.) and most importantly, be cost effective.

Funds from the 40101(d) grant could potentially be used to meet these requirements. We could improve monitoring and control technologies by replacing overhead manual switches and infrastructure with padmounted switchgear and underground conductor. We have a desire to remove 31 wood structures and guys from the system; alleviate multiple overhead spans and low-hanging service drops to promote natural growth of vegetation without interfering with the utility; add new switchgrear to accommodate dual-primary service feeds for increased reliability; 1960s equipment will be replaced - new transformers will meet the newly proposed DOE Energy Efficiency Standards for Distribution Transformers (TP-1). Also, we have a desire to improve system reliability by adding intelligent and coordinated field protection equipment with reclosing and one-shot capability.

VTES currently has less than 40 employees. On average, we serve 6,700 members of predominantly rural community as well as University operations that manage approximately 36,000 students. The VTES system has no large corporate load, industrials nor data centers. Our low-density loads are seasonal; much of the area is vacant during summer peaks and partially present during the winter peaking season. However, we must continue to support increasing operational & maintenance costs for the aging infrastructure.

Because we are not an investor owned utility (IOU) and receive no state or University funding, we have been unable to implement the above improvements and measures due to financial limitations. As a good steward, VTES has a fiduciary responsibility to not unfairly burden our customers with infrastructure costs. GRIPS funding received via the 40101(d) would help our small-scale utility and public University implement necessary resiliency and quality-of-life upgrades.

CommentID: 212528