Challenging conventional wisdom

Our customers want us to solve the new energy equation, and our track record gives them confidence that we can do it. They want better information about their own energy use and more options to control it. For Duke Energy, that means not only providing our customers with electricity, but also showing them how to personalize their energy use. That’s our commitment.

We will start by digitizing our electric distribution and transmission grids. These huge networks already link meters, transformers, substations and other technologies with a communication and control infrastructure. By taking our mostly analog distribution grid and converting it to a digital network, we can create an information‑rich communication system. Our plan is to create the “utility of the future.”

UTILITY OF THE FUTURE

As the electric grid goes digital, we can meet our customers’ growing appetite for better energy‑efficiency information, programs and technologies; for plug‑in electric hybrid vehicles; for distributed generation, which is power produced from smaller and more localized generating units, and for more base load power generated from renewable sources.

A NEW BUSINESS MODEL

The utility of the future will focus on generating, delivering and using energy more efficiently. The business model is based on capturing information and relaying it to our customers, who can use it to make better energy decisions. This model will also help us balance supply and demand, and respond faster to service interruptions.

For example, new “smart meters” will tell customers exactly how much electricity they are using at any given time. These meters will also tell us when, how and in what quantities customers are using power. This will allow us to provide exactly what they need along the most efficient distribution circuits. In essence, the meter becomes an interactive information gateway, not just a passive billing device. The usage data we compile will also help us make better long-term decisions about the need for new transmission and distribution systems.

The utility of the future will make us all more efficient. Already on the drawing board are designs for new transformers that will convert voltages with greater efficiency for homes and businesses. New electric wire alloys will let us transmit power with less resistance. All of the components of the energy delivery system will be linked through real time communication over wires already in place in every home and business.

We have several other initiatives already under way, including our broadband-over-power-line (BPL) pilot programs in Charlotte, N.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. Our energy monitoring and metering solution at the EPA labs and computing center at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina (see pages 23-25) can be the platform for the expansion of this technology to residential, commercial and industrial customers.

FORMING ALLIANCES

Our imaginative initiatives aren’t limited to smart metering and exploring new technologies. To promote energy efficiency, we are forming new collaboratives with our stakeholders, including alliances with retailers and suppliers, to inform customers — both small and large — of readily available tools and technologies to reduce energy use.

Duke Energy is well positioned to solve energy problems for our customers. We understand energy use, we have a low cost of capital, and we are working through alliances and with third parties to implement the best solutions for customers.

The long-term goal for the utility of the future is simple: to provide greater reliability with less environmental impact at a lower cost to our customers. New programs delivered through new channels will make it happen.