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Virginia Commonwealth University, Dominion to Partner on Micro-grid Project for VCU School of Engineering

Virginia Commonwealth University and Dominion, one of the nation’s leading energy providers, will partner to use the VCU School of Engineering's West Hall as a five-year test site for efficient energy technologies and research as a micro-grid project.

VCU and Dominion signed an agreement that calls for the use of Dominion experts, VCU School of Engineering faculty and VCU Facilities Management personnel and third-party products and services to gather and share power-consumption data. The project will make continuous, real-time energy adjustments to the building, lights and equipment to save energy and lower costs. It is expected to reduce energy costs by $20,000, or 4 percent, annually.

"Leading the way in addressing sustainability challenges is one of the core themes of our Quest for Distinction strategic plan,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Working with Dominion on this project is a wonderful opportunity for VCU to provide a powerful example of environmental responsibility while delivering valuable data for the development of more efficient energy technologies."

Paul Koonce, chief executive officer of Dominion Virginia Power, said, “This project with the VCU School of Engineering will open doors for the establishment of energy-saving micro-grids in many other locations such as universities, military bases and industries. Using the latest technology to collect data on electricity use at the outlet will help us fine-tune the delivery of electricity to where it is needed when it is needed, reducing waste, saving energy and saving money for the customer.”

VCU and Dominion, through its Alternative Energy Solutions group, will split the $500,000 cost of the project, which includes the installation of hardware, control systems and solar panels to enable both parties to gather voltage data and analyze energy volume, timing, noise and cleanliness, as well as establish energy usage trends and equipment performance.

VCU’s Facilities Management staff will install 230 portable voltage monitors from Dominion’s technology partners to manage electrical usage and reduce peak power consumption. EDGEsm technology, a product developed by Dominion, will be installed to capture energy and demand savings while the other technologies will predict power consumption and power reduction potential, send notifications prior to peak events and control and verify power reduction.

“We’re excited to create a working model that can be used by students and researchers to investigate and create innovative methods for maximizing energy conservation and cost savings,” said Ed Bennett, executive director of the VCU Physical Plant and deputy for facilities management at VCU. “We foresee this as an extension of our efforts to predict and save future maintenance costs based on equipment energy analysis.”

Dominion’s technology partners include Greenlet Technologies of Israel (www.greenlet.net) and Power Tagging Technologies of Boulder, Co., (www.powertagging.com). Greenlet’s pluggable outlets, which can be installed by consumers, automatically communicate with a utility’s central management system to help utilities control power consumption of individual pieces of equipment. Power Tagging’s Grid Location Aware™ technology is a grid resident solution for granular command and control of electrical distribution.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.

About VCU Engineering

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering, located in Richmond, Virginia, opened in 1996 and houses three state-of-the-art engineering facilities, the School offers more than 300,000 square feet of the highest quality classrooms and laboratory space.  Driven to be the national model for innovation in engineering and research, the School offers BS, MS, and PhD degrees in mechanical, nuclear, biomedical, electrical, computer and chemical and life science engineering, and computer science.  Interdisciplinary research opportunities are offered through the Center for Nanomaterials and Characterization, the Institute for Engineering and Medicine, the C. Kenneth and Dianne Harris Wright Virginia Microelectronics Center, and the da Vinci Center for Innovation. For more, see www.egr.vcu.edu.

About Dominion

Dominion (NYSE: D) is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 28,200 megawatts of generation, 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline and 6,300 miles of electric transmission lines.  Dominion operates the nation's largest natural gas storage system with 947 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 15 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's website at www.dom.com.