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    Virginia Electric Energy

    As in other states, Virginia's electrical industry is in transition due to deregulation. Prior to deregulation, most electrical generation plants, and all electrical transmission and distribution facilities in the state were operated by public utilities - private firms licensed to provide electrical power within the Virginia under state-regulated pricing. The deregulation process has the potential to result in a competitive market for electrical energy supplies. Although the electrical energy distribution remains regulated, both the state's public utilities and non-utility generating firms provide electrical power supplies.

    For more information on electrical deregulation in Virginia, see the information on Virginia Energy Supply Competition maintained by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.


    Virginia electric utilities operate electrical generating capacity throughout the state. 38% of this capacity is coal-fired; another 24% is nuclear, and 20% is hydroelectric. The state's utilities also operate a number of oil-fired and gas-fired generators to supplement the power available from coal, nuclear units, and interstate power transfers when additional power is needed.

    In addition to utility-operated capacity, a number of non-utility generators operate in Virginia. These facilities are owned and operated by non-utility firms. In some cases, the non-utility generators operate under contract to major utilities, such as Dominion Virginia Power. In other cases, they operate primarily for the purpose of generating power for use in large industrial facilities and sell excess power when available to one the utilities for distribution to utility customers.

    Over 90% of the electrical energy generated by utilities in Virginia is produced from coal and nuclear sources.

    Coal-fired power plants are operated by the state's two major utilities -- Dominion Virginia Power and American Electric Power. Potomac Electric Power, the electric utility serving the northern Virginia area and Washington DC, sold its Potomac River plant in northern Virginia to a Southern Energy, Inc. - a non-utility operator - in American Electric Power operates two coal-fired plants: the Clinch River Plant in Russell County, and the Glen Lyn plant on the New River in Giles County, near the West Virginia border. The Clinch River plant is located close to active Virginia coal mines.

    Dominion Virginia Power operates nine coal-fired plants in eastern Virginia, including the Clover plant on the Roanoke River in Halifax County. This plant, owned in partnership with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, is among the nation's newest and most modern coal-fired generating plants. Dominion Virginia Power purchased three coal-fired plants - at Altavista, Hopewell, and Southampton - from their non-utility developers in 2000,

    Approximately half of the coal burned in the state's coal-fired power plants is obtained from Virginia mines; the majority of remaining coal burned in-state by utilities to produce power is obtained from West Virginia and Kentucky.

    Dominion Virginia Power also operates two large nuclear plants in eastern Virginia, at North Anna and Surrey.

    Large coal-fired and nuclear generators, and hydroelectric plants located on flowing streams, are known as "baseload" power plants; the term indicates that these plants operate most efficiently when generating power continuously - around the clock, seven days a week.

    Demand for electricity, however, varies throughout the day and night. Demand for power is usually much higher during the working day than late in the evening, and tends to peak during very hot or very cold weather. Oil and gas-fired plants generally operate to produce power during periods of high demand. These plants generally are smaller than the state's nuclear and larger coal-fired facilities; they also are more expensive to operate, per kilowatthour, but can be brought on-line and off-line more easily than the baseload plants.

    Another means by which the state's utilities match supply with demand is by pumped-storage hydroelectric units. Two large hydroelectric facilities are located in Virginia: the Bath County pumped-storage facility, operated by Dominion Virginia Power, and Smith Mountain Lake, operated by American Electric Power on the Roanoke River east of Roanoke. Both of these facilities utilize excess electricity that becomes available during times of excess power supply and/or low demand to pump water into large storage basins above the pumped-storage hydroelectric generator. Later, when that power is needed, the water is released to generate power.

    Because the Bath County facility operates strictly in the pumped-storage mode, and because energy conversion is never 100 percent efficient, this facility actually consumes more kilowatthours in a given year than it generates. Therefore, its annual "net generation" is negative. It does provide a benefit to Virginia's electric system, however, by converting electric power generated during periods of low demand to power that can be used by consumers during high-demand periods. The Smith Mountain Lake facility functions as a conventional hydroelectric unit during some time periods, by converting the Roanoke River's flow to electric power; during low-demand periods, it is also used as a pumped-storage hydroelectric generating unit.


    Electric power is distributed within Virginia by an electric power transmission system . The "backbone" of this system is its high-voltage, high-capacity transmission components, including 765 kv transmission lines in the western-Virginia service area of American Electric Power and 500 kv transmission lines elsewhere in the state. Bulk power is moved through the state on these large transmission lines. An intricate network of smaller, lower-voltage lines distributes the power from these larger power lines and individual generating facilities to power consumers in urban and rural areas.

    Virginia's electrical network is an integral component of the regional transmission system, which serves a number of important functions.

    First, in-state electric-power generation is far from sufficient to satisfy the state's consumption, so much of the power used by Virginia residents and businesses is brought in from out-of-state generators on these power transmission lines. On average about 80% of the electrical energy used by Virginia consumers was generated in-state, while about 20% was imported over the interstate transmission network.

    Secondly, the state's connection to a regional transmission network helps to keep the state’s electric power rates low. Conditions to the west of Virginia are favorable to low-cost electrical generation, due to the presence of large water bodies, such as the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, and plentiful coal supplies. Both of the state’s major utilities, American Electric Power and Dominion Electric Power, operate coal-fired generating units in areas west of Virginia and use those units to satisfy substantial portions of their Virginia customers’ demands.

    The state’s transmission network allows its utilities to participate in wholesale power markets. When utilities are able to purchase power from generating units located outside the state's borders at times when those units are able to generate power at less cost than in-state generators, this reduces the cost of power to Virginia consumers. Conversely, the regional transmission network allows in-state generators to sell power to customers outside of the state, when transmission capacity is available. Out-of-state generators are also able to use Virginia transmission capacity to transmit power through the state to other out-of-state customers, when that transmission capacity is not being used to satisfy in-state needs. Firms using the transmission network for wholesale power transfers are required to pay fees to the transmission operator.

    Finally, the transmission network provides some insurance against power disruptions that might otherwise occur if an in-state generating unit supplying local customers was to go down unexpectedly. Given its critical role in assuring electrical reliability, and the fact that transmission lines themselves are subject to occasional disruptions, the transmission network is designed and constructed so as to assure continued function in the case of an unexpected outage. As a result, most localities are supplied with power by several transmission lines.


    Virginia electric power customers are served by a number of electric power distributors including major utilities and a number of smaller providers. Traditionally, those electric distributors that do not own and operate sufficient generating capacity to serve their customers purchased power from the major utility operating the bulk transmission system that supplies its service area, while the larger distributors operated their own generating capacity. Today, virtually all electric distributors purchase power on wholesale markets, and purchase transmission capacity necessary to move that power from generators to customers.

    National Data:

    Summary Statistics for the United States, 2001-2005
      2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
    Net Generation (thousand megawatthours)
    Coal1 2,013,179 1,978,620 1,973,737 1,933,130 1,903,956
    Petroleum2 122,522 120,646 119,406 94,567 124,880
    Natural Gas 757,974 708,979 649,908 691,006 639,129
    Other Gases3 16,317 16,766 15,600 11,463 9,039
    Nuclear 781,986 788,528 763,733 780,064 768,826
    Hydroelectric Conventional4 269,587 268,417 275,806 264,329 216,961
    Other Renewables5 94,932 90,408 87,410 86,922 77,985
    Pumped Storage6 -6,558 -8,488 -8,535 -8,743 -8,823
    Other7 4,749 6,679 6,121 5,714 4,690
    All Energy Sources 4,054,688 3,970,555 3,883,185 3,858,452 3,736,644
    Net Summer Generating Capacity (megawatts)
    Coal1 313,380 313,020 313,019 315,350 314,230
    Petroleum2 58,548 59,119 60,680 59,583 66,086
    Natural Gas8 383,061 371,011 355,492 312,580 252,909
    Other Gases3 2,063 2,296 1,994 2,008 1,670
    Nuclear 99,988 99,628 99,209 98,657 98,159
    Hydroelectric Conventional4 77,541 77,641 78,694 79,356 78,916
    Other Renewables5 21,251 18,763 18,199 16,755 16,180
    Pumped Storage9 21,347 20,764 20,522 20,371 19,664
    Other7 841 700 638 641 440
    All Energy Sources 978,020 962,942 948,446 905,301 848,254
    Demand, Capacity Resources, and Capacity Margins – Summer
    Net Internal Demand (megawatts) 746,470 692,908 696,752 696,376 674,833
    Capacity Resources (megawatts) 882,125 875,870 856,131 833,380 788,990
    Capacity Margins (percent) 15.4 20.9 18.6 16.4 14.5
    Consumption of Fossil Fuels for Electricity Generation
    Coal (thousand tons) 1 1,045,878 1,026,018 1,014,058 987,583 972,691
    Petroleum (thousand barrels) 2 211,256 209,508 206,653 168,597 216,672
    Natural Gas (millions of cubic feet) 6,486,761 6,111,574 5,616,135 6,126,062 5,832,305
    Other Gases (millions of btu) 3 176,906 186,796 156,306 131,230 97,308
    Consumption of Fossil Fuels for Thermal Output in Combined Heat and Power Facilities
    Coal (thousand tons) 1 19,402 18,779 17,720 17,561 18,944
    Petroleum (thousand barrels) 2 19,937 19,856 17,939 14,811 18,268
    Natural Gas (millions of cubic feet) 541,206 610,105 721,267 860,019 898,286
    Other Gases (millions of btu) 3 171,406 167,273 137,837 146,882 166,161
    Consumption of Fossil Fuels for Electricity Generation and Useful Thermal Output
    Coal (thousand tons) 1 1,065,281 1,044,798 1,031,778 1,005,144 991,635
    Petroleum (thousand barrels) 2 231,193 229,364 224,593 183,408 234,940
    Natural Gas (millions of cubic feet) 7,027,967 6,726,679 6,337,402 6,986,081 6,730,591
    Other Gases (millions of btu) 3 348,312 354,069 294,143 278,111 263,469
    Stocks at Electricity Power Sector (year end)
    Coal (thousand tons)10 101,137 106,669 121,567 141,714 138,496
    Petroleum (thousand barrels) 11 50,062 51,434 53,170 52,490 57,031
    Receipts of Fuel at Electricity Generators12
    Coal (thousand tons) 1 1,021,437 1,002,032 986,026 884,287 762,815
    Petroleum (thousand barrels) 2 194,733 186,655 185,567 120,851 124,618
    Natural Gas (millions of cubic feet)13 6,191,389 5,734,054 5,500,704 5,607,737 2,148,924
    Cost of Fuel at Electricity Generators (cents per million Btu) 12
    Coal1 154 136 128 125 123
    Petroleum2 644 429 433 334 369
    Natural Gas13 821 596 539 356 449
    Emissions (thousand metric tons)
    Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 2,513,609 2,456,934 2,415,680 2,395,048 2,389,745
    Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 10,340 10,309 10,646 10,881 11,174
    Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) 3,961 4,143 4,532 5,194 5,290
    Trade (million megawatthours)
    Purchases 2,847 2,829 2,716 2,705 3,143
    Sales for Resale 3,246 3,013 3,015 2,811 2,959
    Electricity Imports and Exports (thousand megawatthours)
    Imports 44,527 34,210 30,390 36,779 38,500
    Exports 19,803 22,898 23,972 15,796 16,473
    Retail Sales and Revenue Data – Bundled and Unbundled
    Number of Ultimate Customers (thousands)
    Residential 120,761 118,764 117,280 116,622 114,890
    Commercial 16,872 16,607 16,550 15,334 14,867
    Industrial 734 748 713 602 571
    Transportation 1 1 1 NA NA
    Other NA NA NA 1,067 1,030
    All Sectors 138,367 136,119 134,544 133,624 131,359
    Sales to Ultimate Customers (thousand megawatthours)
    Residential 1,359,227 1,291,982 1,275,824 1,265,180 1,201,607
    Commercial 1,275,079 1,230,425 1,198,728 1,104,497 1,083,069
    Industrial 1,019,156 1,017,850 1,012,373 990,238 996,609
    Transportation 7,506 7,224 6,810 NA NA
    Other NA NA NA 105,552 113,174
    All Sectors 3,660,969 3,547,479 3,493,734 3,465,466 3,394,458
    Direct Use14 154,700 168,470 168,295 166,184 162,649
    Total Disposition 3,815,669 3,715,949 3,662,029 3,631,650 3,557,107
    Revenue From Ultimate Customers (million dollars)
    Residential 128,393 115,577 111,249 106,834 103,158
    Commercial 110,522 100,546 96,263 87,117 85,741
    Industrial 58,445 53,477 51,741 48,336 50,293
    Transportation 643 519 514 NA NA
    Other NA NA NA 7,124 8,151
    All Sectors 298,003 270,119 259,767 249,411 247,343
    Average Retail Price (cents per kilowatthour)
    Residential 9.45 8.95 8.72 8.44 8.58
    Commercial 8.67 8.17 8.03 7.89 7.92
    Industrial 5.73 5.25 5.11 4.88 5.05
    Transportation 8.57 7.18 7.54 NA NA
    Other NA NA NA 6.75 7.20
    All Sectors 8.14 7.61 7.44 7.20 7.29
    Revenue and Expense Statistics (million dollars
    Major Investor Owned
    Utility Operating Revenues 267,534 240,318 226,227 219,389 267,525
    Utility Operating Expenses 238,590 207,161 197,459 188,745 235,198
    Net Utility Operating Income 28,944 33,158 28,768 30,644 32,327
    Major Publicly Owned (with Generation Facilities)15
    Operating Revenues NA NA 33,906 32,776 38,028
    Operating Expenses NA NA 29,637 28,638 32,789
    Net Electric Operating Income NA NA 4,268 4,138 5,238
    Major Publicly Owned (without Generation Facilities)15
    Operating Revenues NA NA 12,454 11,546 10,417
    Operating Expenses NA NA 11,481 10,703 9,820
    Net Electric Operating Income NA NA 974 843 597
    Major Federally Owned15
    Operating Revenues NA NA 11,798 11,470 12,458
    Operating Expenses NA NA 8,763 8,665 10,013
    Net Electric Operating Income NA NA 3,035 2,805 2,445
    Major Cooperative Borrower Owned
    Operating Revenues 34,088 30,650 29,228 27,458 26,458
    Operating Expenses 31,209 27,828 26,361 24,561 23,763
    Net Electric Operating Income 2,879 2,822 2,867 2,897 2,696
    Demand-Side Management (DSM) Data
    Actual Peak Load Reductions (megawatts)
    Total Actual Peak Load Reduction 25,710 23,532 22,904 22,936 24,955
    DSM Energy Savings (thousand megawatthours)
    Energy Efficiency 58,891 52,662 48,245 52,285 52,946
    Load Management 1,006 2,047 2,020 1,790 990
    DSM Cost (million dollars)
    Total Cost 1,921 1,558 1,297 1,626 1,630

    Get the data in CSV format

  • 1 Includes anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous and lignite coal. Waste and synthetic coal are included starting in 2002.
  • 2 Distillate fuel oil (all diesel and No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 fuel oils), residual fuel oil (No. 5 and No. 6 fuel oils and bunker C fuel oil), jet fuel, kerosene, petroleum coke (converted to liquid petroleum, see Technical Notes for conversion methodology) and waste oil.
  • 3 Blast furnace gas, propane gas, and other manufactured and waste gases derived from fossil fuels.
  • 4 Conventional hydroelectric power and excluding hydroelectric pumped storage facility production.
  • 5 Wood, black liquor, other wood waste, municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, tires, agriculture byproducts, other biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaic energy, and wind.
  • 6 The generation from a hydroelectric pumped storage facility is the net value of production minus the energy used for pumping.
  • 7 Batteries, chemicals, hydrogen, pitch, purchased steam, sulfur, and miscellaneous technologies.
  • 8 Includes a small number of generators for which waste heat is the primary energy source.
  • 9 Pumped storage is the capacity to generate electricity from water previously pumped to an elevated reservoir and then released through a conduit to turbine generators located at a lower level.
  • 10 Anthracite, bituminous coal, subbituminous coal, and lignite; excludes waste coal.
  • 11 Distillate fuel oil (all diesel and No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 fuel oils), residual fuel oil (No. 5 and No. 6 fuel oils and bunker C fuel oil), jet fuel, kerosene, petroleum coke (converted to liquid petroleum, see Technical Notes for conversion methodology). Data prior to 2004 includes small quantities of waste oil.
  • 12 Beginning in 2002, includes data from the Form EIA-423 for independent power producers and combined heat and power producers.
  • 13 Natural gas, including a small amount of supplemental gaseous fuels that cannot be identified separately.
  • 14 Direct Use represents commercial and industrial facility use of onsite net electricity generation; and electricity sales or transfers to adjacent or co-located facilities for which revenue information is not available.
  • 15 The Form EIA-412 was terminated in 2003.
  • NA = Not available.
  • R = Revised.

  • Source:
  • Table ES, Electric Power Annual, EIA.
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