By charging up during lower-demand hours, owners of electric cars can reduce their charges from Appalachian Power Co.

The utility is offering a discount to its Virginia customers as part of a pilot program approved by the State Corporation Commission.

When they plug in during off-peak hours — generally overnight — residential customers with a typical electric car consumption of 2,700 kilowatt-hours a year will save about $86.50 on home charging, Appalachian said in a news release this week.

That amounts to an annual discount of about a third.

Appalachian expects to make the option available by year’s end.

About 700 plug-in electric cars are currently registered to customers in Appalachian’s Virginia service area, which includes about 500,000 customers. The largest number is in Roanoke, which has about 155 of the gas-free cars.

“This time-of-day rate is another way we are responding to our customers’ changing needs and working toward an innovative future for our industry,” said Chris Beam, Appalachian’s president and chief operating officer.

Under the program, customers will have a second advanced meter installed in their homes to enable off-peak charging with no changes to their residential rates. Those customers will receive a single bill that combines both their residential and car charging costs.

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Laurence Hammack covers environmental issues, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and business and enterprise stories. He has been a reporter for The Roanoke Times for more than three decades.

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