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VIRGINIA POWER CONTINUES STRONG RELIABILITY, PERFORMANCE TREND

      VIRGINIA POWER CONTINUES STRONG RELIABILITY, PERFORMANCE TREND
    RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Virginia Power today announced it achieved its second consecutive year of record customer service reliability and generating unit performance in 1991 while reducing its planned expenditures by about $300 million.
    "1991 was another exceptional year for us in all areas, from customer service to generating unit operating performance, particularly among our nuclear units," said James T. Rhodes, president and chief executive officer.  "As a result, we saved our customers hundreds of millions of dollars."
    Efficiencies increased across the board during 1991 despite adding 40,000 new customers, meeting a record peak demand for electricity and reducing planned budgets and staffing levels.
    Service reliability was the best in the company's history -- 99.979 percent, which means the average company customer was without service for less than two hours for the entire year.  The previous record was set in 1990.  The company's 30,000 square mile service area stretches from Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond, Tidewater and northeastern North Carolina.
    A total of 40,643 new residential, commercial and industrial customers were added to the company's system.  Of the total, 28,029 were new residential customers.  While the total was well below records set almost annually during the 1980s' economic boom, it was indicative of Virginia's continuing appeal as a state in which to live and work.
    The company's 1.8 million customers pushed demand to an all-time peak of 12,939 megawatts on July 23, 1991.  The previous mark was 12,697, set in December 1989.
    Meeting that demand was the job of the company's generating stations, which operated well above industry standards for the second consecutive year.
    North Anna and Surry nuclear stations, with a total capacity of about 3,400 megawatts, achieved a record 80.6 percent capacity factor, which was among the best in the nation and 0.3 percent better than the previous record set in 1990.  Capacity factor compares a unit's actual generating performance against its maximum potential and is a key measure of performance for commercial nuclear units.
    By operating at a much higher level than the typical industry average of 63-to-68 percent, Virginia Power saved its customers millions of dollars in fuel costs.
    The company's 21 coal- and oil-fired units and 20 hydroelectric units, with a total capacity of more than 7,600 megawatts, also were among the nation's top achievers in 1991 with an equivalent availability rating of 89.7 percent.  Equivalent availability represents the amount of time the fossil and hydro units were available to run at full load during the year and is a standard utility industry performance measure.
    While the mark was slightly down from 1990's record 90.9 percent because more units were out of service for maintenance, the 1991 figure still significantly exceeded industry averages and the company's goal.
    The company's 17 coal units, with capacity totaling more than 4,300 megawatts, achieved a heat rate of 9,813 British thermal units per kilowatt-hour of energy produced.  Heat rate, another standard indicator, measures a unit's efficiency.  The heat rate level achieved by the company was far better than industry averages and is the best since the late 1960s when the generating units were much newer and had less environmental equipment.
    All of these efficiencies and superior generating unit performance occurred as the company reduced its anticipated 1991 capital expenditures by about $240 million and its budgeted operational and maintenance expenses by some $57 million.  Since Jan. 1, 1990, the planned budgets have been reduced by about $500 million.
    Staffing levels were reduced by about 170 positions through attrition during the year.  In the past three years, Virginia Power has reduced its staffing level by about 1,000 positions even while adding 115,000 new customers.
    "We continue to look for ways to increase efficiency and reduce expenses, all with one goal in mind -- to provide reliable electricity at reasonable cost," said Rhodes.  As an example, he pointed to an early retirement plan just announced that is projected to save the company $10 million in the next 10 years.
    "It would not be right to seek rate increases and not do anything about our own costs," Rhodes said, noting that the company would file additional testimony Tuesday on its $184 million rate case pending before the State Corporation Commission.  The majority of the increase would pay for new power generating capacity from cogenerators and independent power producers needed to meet expected growth in electricity demand in the 1990s.
    -0-        1/20/92
    /CONTACT:  Carl F. Baab or James W. Norvelle of Virginia Power, 804-771-6115/ CO:  Virginia Power ST:  Virginia IN:  UTI SU: FC-KW -- NY043 -- 1471 01/20/92 14:39 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 20, 1992
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