With the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, the combined company’s territory spans two areas that will soon be the largest political hotspots this year. Beginning August 27th, Tampa, Florida will host the Republican National Convention (RNC), while nearly six hundred miles away, Charlotte, North Carolina will host the Democratic National Convention (DNC) beginning September 3rd.
Although Duke Energy strongly supports individual employee participation in the political process (as long as such activities are done using employees’ own time and resources) Duke Energy is looking far beyond the politics of these two political conventions. The company sees supporting these events as just good business.
As a result of these conventions, each of these two communities expects to see an influx of 50,000 to 100,000 visitors. During these times, Duke Energy is doing its part to support the festivities by, not only hosting several receptions and marketing events, but by highlighting several of its programs and initiatives. One such program playing a role in both Charlotte and Tampa is the company’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Program.
On Tuesday, August 28th, during the RNC in Tampa, Duke Energy will be hosting a reception for the delegates from both Carolinas aboard the S.S. American Victory Ship (one of four fully operational WWII ships in the country). Prominently displayed at this reception will be several of Duke Energy’s electric fleet vehicles as well as Duke Energy staff who will educate delegates on the activities of Duke Energy’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle program.
During the DNC in Charlotte, Duke Energy will present a “streetscape” where (on September 3rd) the public and (on September 4th, 5th and 6th) delegates will have the opportunity to see and feel a display of electric vehicles and charging stations and learn more about Duke Energy’s plug-in electric vehicle initiatives.
While patrons of these two events may be sporting their reds and blues in support of their affiliated political parties, Duke Energy will be sporting its green – green, environmentally-friendly plug-ins – in support of the communities it serves.
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Duke Energy isn’t timid when it comes to innovation. So it’s no surprise that a handful of employees direct their trailblazing towards transportation.
Consider Debbie Homce, a Human Performance Manager at McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, NC. Although Debbie doesn’t see herself as a techie, she does consider herself a crusader for clean energy and the environment. Her degree in Nuclear Engineering supports this claim.
To support clean transportation, Debbie bought an all-electric Nissan LEAF. Although she uses the LEAF as her primary vehicle for local commutes – work, church, shopping, etc – she hopes that charging infrastructure eventually will allow her to drive her LEAF to visit family in the Midwest or Texas.
In Cincinnati, OH sits Rebecca Hackett, a Real Estate Analyst. Rebecca – who does consider herself an early adopter – waited 14 months to get her LEAF. In fact, she was only the second retail customer in Cincinnati to receive one! She ultimately decided on the LEAF over a Chevy Volt to eliminate more car maintenance… no oil changes, transmission fluid to flush nor exhaust maintenance required.
Co-workers have asked Rebecca about features designed to protect pedestrians. (To warn pedestrians of a nearing LEAF, Nissan designed its EV to beep at low speeds.) Another co-worker questioned the impact on Rebecca’s power bill. “I have not noticed any change in my bill. I trickle charge with a normal outlet in my garage at home during the overnight hours which takes as much electricity as running a TV all night.” This works just fine for her 12-mile commute.
Then there’s Whit Gallman, also an employee of McGuire Nuclear Station, who placed his order for a Ford Focus Electric from a dealer in New York in February 2012 and waited months for the model’s official launch. Finally, in May 2012, after a drive to Long Island and dozens of emails to Ford’s marketing group, he was the third retail customer in the country to receive his shiny new Focus Electric.
So far, our employees have purchased LEAFS, Ford Focus Electrics, Chevy Volts and plug-in Priuses – 4 of the 6 retail models currently offered. I don’t know how those numbers fare against other utilities, however where ever we fall, our homegrown trailblazers here at Duke Energy make us proud.
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Spring is here so I suppose it is that time again – time to get out there and get educated about sustainability and eco-friendly living by attending the Charlotte Clean and Green event. The Charlotte Clean and Green event is an annual… well, I guess I would call it a type of festival, with a focus on the environment. For the past several years, this free public event has been held during the spring in uptown Charlotte. Duke Energy, along with Wells Fargo, is a key sponsor of this community event. This year, Duke Energy is also one of nearly 30 exhibitors that plan to set up tents booths and tables to provide demonstrations, education and lots of freebees.
I attended this event last year, supporting the Duke Energy display where we provided our customers with free energy conserving compact fluorescent light bulbs and offered a little show-and-tell with our plug-in electric vehicles. Standing behind the table or running through the features of Duke Energy’s all-electric Tesla Roadster with interested passers-by, I saw scores of couples, families, children and individuals with gift bags, balloons, ice cream, information packs, painted faces and trees! (Yep, there were even small, ready-to-plant trees given away by our Carbon Offset program!)
This year, exhibitors will include
- Conservation agencies
- Eco-free/Cruelty-free boutiques
- Sustainable architectural firms
- Tree and plant specialists, green landscaping companies
- Organic cleaning companies, organic clothing companies, organic… well, anything companies
- Energy conservation companies, energy management companies, energy companies
- Heating and cooling vendors
Everyone I saw last year seemed to have a smile, a question or a painted face, but everyone looked to be having a good ol’ afternoon. If you haven’t had a chance to experience Charlotte Clean and Green, I would recommend that you at least come check it out. Oh, and bring a friend to buy you an eco-friendly ice cream cone to boot.
This year’s Charlotte Clean and Green event will be held on May 19th from 10am to 4pm in Uptown Charlotte’s Elizabeth Park. For more information, visit www.charlottecleanandgreen.com.
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Wouldn’t it be great if your car could talk to the nearby gas stations and you could top off your tank using the lowest cost option? In concept, this is very similar to what Toyota wants its electric vehicle models to have the ability to do.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recently developed a communication protocol to enable electric vehicles and charging stations to communicate with utilities. Using these new communication standards, Toyota is developing a vehicle telematics system to enable its electric vehicles to send and receive communication signals to and from Duke Energy, via the internet or through smart meters. Through an Indiana-based pilot called Project Plug-IN, Duke Energy and Energy System Network (ESN) have established an ideal test bed in which Toyota can test its new telematics system that will be available in future releases of the Plug-in Prius.
The really novel part about this demonstration between Duke Energy, ESN and Toyota is that this will be the first real world test of the new protocol in the homes of Duke Energy customers. This type of utility -to- vehicle communication could allow Duke Energy to send pricing signals to vehicles, allowing the vehicle to use driver preferences and energy costs to determine the ideal time to charge.
This new method of communication will not only help utilities better understand how electric vehicle charging could affect the grid, but also provide key input into Duke Energy’s forecast of long-term infrastructure needs. The benefit to customers could potentially be even greater by introducing new ways for them to engage their utility for future time-based rates or demand response programs. This technology can also help automakers develop better vehicles to suit customers’ needs as well as give customers more control over their vehicles’ energy consumption.
Yet another benefit to all of this work is the economic impact. Toyota Motor Corporation’s large presence in the state of Indiana has been primarily limited to manufacturing. However, through collaboration with Duke Energy and Project Plug-IN, a pilot program under which Duke Energy has deployed more than 100 intelligent electric vehicle charging stations, the automaker is now beginning to take on R&D activities in the state.
The project was officially announced in August and is expected to run through 2013.
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