Last week, Duke Energy published its seventh Sustainability Report – the first since the merger with Progress Energy in July 2012.
To be honest, I’ll skim it today. I’ll stop to mull over some interesting fact – like the $2.5 billion the company has invested in renewable energy since 2007.
Next week, I’ll probably skim it again, double-checking the percent of Gen X’ers in the company’s workforce – 32.7 percent.
The following week, I’m back again to see what the typical cost per kilowatt-hour is for a U.S. resident (12.83 cents) versus the typical Duke Energy customer in Kentucky (8.77 cents).
Do you see a trend? Duke Energy’s 2012 Sustainability Report is a great reference tool all year long. It’s a comprehensive overview of all that we’re doing to be a more sustainable company – filled with facts and data you’ll be looking for soon enough.
It also showcases Duke Energy employees in the “Living it” section – reporting on what they are doing to support sustainability in their personal lives.
As Duke Energy seeks to be more transparent with our stakeholders, the company has laid out interesting facts and figures about the operations of our company, and the goals the company is striving for. Some of the data is being published for the first time.
- As part of Duke Energy’s $9 billion generation fleet modernization program, the company will retire more than 3,400 megawatts of older coal-fired units by the end of 2013. That number will grow to 6,300 megawatts of coal capacity retired over the next few years.
- Investments in new power plants and upgrades at other units have reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 83 percent and nitrogen oxides emissions by 64 percent since 2005.
- The company has set a goal of owning or purchasing 6,000 megawatts of wind, solar and biomass energy by 2020.
- Since 2010, Duke Energy and Progress Energy combined have distributed nearly 37 million CFLs to customers.
- Economic development efforts helped attract more than $3.5 billion in capital investment and about 13,000 jobs to Duke Energy service territories in 2012.
So don’t worry about not reading it all today. Feel free to browse, scan, peruse, skim – maybe just look at the photos. If you’re like me, you’ll be back.
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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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Within the electric car industry, there is a little bit of a “chicken or the egg” philosophy. Which comes first, the vehicle or the charging infrastructure to support the vehicles? This is not an easy answer, but with projects like Indiana’s Project Plug-IN, Duke Energy is helping to understand which needs to come first, or even better, can they begin together?
This project is a big collaboration between different companies in Indiana to promote the advancement of electric vehicle technology and adoption of Plug-In Electric Vehicles:
- Energy Systems Network (a nonprofit organization)
- Indianapolis Power and Light (another utility in the area)
- MISO (a regional electricity transmission organization)
- Purdue (a university)
- and others
The project provides us the opportunity to install residential, work place and public charging station infrastructure. To date we have installed over 100 of them at homes, state parks, and even at a few Kohl’s locations!
I have been a part of several media events unveiling public charging stations. The atmosphere at these events is very “electric”. People are excited about the possibility of owning a plug-in electric vehicle and have the ability to charge while shopping or running errands around their city. This article in the Indiana Business journal describes the unveiling the City of Lafayette charging stations. The Indianapolis Star covered the unveiling of the Hamilton Town Center –Simon Property charging stations.
From what the team has heard to date, our residential PEV pilot participants love the experience of driving electric vehicles. Most are very passionate about the industry and provide us great feedback on the cars as well as the usability of the Level 2 charging station we provided them as part of the pilot. We also hear comments like, “I love driving right by the gas pumps; I don’t even keep track of the price of gas any longer.” We’re still looking for residential pilot participants in Indiana. If you’re interested, please visit our website for more information. If you aren’t in Indiana, we would still love to hear from you! Tell us what you would like to see more of in the comments section below.
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No one, with perhaps the exception of skydivers, likes cords, do they? Phones – those pesky landlines, not the smart phone that accompanies us just about everywhere – stopped relying on cords long ago. Your computer mouse, printers, and networks are all going cordless. Even babies can’t wait to lose their umbilical cord – we’re ready to go wireless minutes after birth.
Electronic Vehicle drivers are ready to experience the same freedom, and technology is emerging that will help them free themselves of their vehicular tethers. This emerging technology has the potential to expedite the mainstream adoption of PEVs, with the expectation that PEVs with wireless charging systems could reach consumer markets within this decade.
Carolina-based Clemson and Duke Energy are both participants in the Apollo Program, an initiative of Evatran™, which has developed the Plugless Power™ wireless recharging technology. The system would offer greater convenience, allowing drivers to avoid the repetitive plug-in process. We’re testing an early version to help answer fundamental questions about use and performance. Will it charge an electric car (in this case, a Nissan Leaf) in the same time as a wired charging station? How does the installation compare when looking at wired versus wireless charging stations in terms of time and cost? How does going wireless affect the overall customer experience of owning a PEV? These answers will help Duke Energy better understand how this type of technology will impact our customers as more and more PEV’s become part of life at work and at home.
Does the promise of wireless charging stations increase your interest in owning an electric vehicle? Tell us why in the comment section below.
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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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We asked you the week of April 16 – how are you participating in Earth Day?
Thirty-four percent of our readers said they would plant a tree on Earth Day – a traditional way to celebrate Earth Day, good exercise and a nice way to provide shade for your home during the hot summer months.
We were pleased to see that more than 30 percent of you said you would request free CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs) from us. Thank you for ordering CFLs and including us in your Earth Day plans. In 2011 we distributed 20 million CFLs to our customers, saving enough energy to power more than 65,000 residential homes or offsetting the carbon output of 130,000 passenger cars. To learn more about CFLs, make sure you watch the video we posted last week.
Turning down your water heater, getting outside with your family and taking our home energy survey completed the list.
More than 15 percent of you said you would be doing something not listed in the poll on Earth Day. We even listed some additional ideas in a blog on the subject.
We’d love to hear where you went and what you did to celebrate the day. Tell us your stories in the comment sections below.
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We asked, you answered: see what regular folks think about their energy use.
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Mojo. So much comes to mind when you hear this word. Mojo. N. 1. Self-confidence, Self-assuredness. As in basis for belief in ones self in a situation. 2. Good luck fetish / charm to bolster confidence.
Why energy and mojo? Because we all want confidence, know-how and control over our energy use; we want to be that smart neighbor, responsible parent, or even the environmental hero – in our homes and for our community, even for the world. Finding our energy mojo is a mentality we embrace to then act.
You’re likely doing a lot already to be energy efficient, but what about other forms of sustainability that also suck energy? What if you looked at the relationship between water and energy? Did you know that heating and storing water uses a significant amount of electricity? And that considerable amounts of electricity is needed to move water around our cities and neighborhoods to accommodate our “on demand” need for water.
Mojo motivation #1. Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Older, inefficient toilets are a major source of wasted water in many homes. If every American home with older, inefficient toilets replaced them with new WaterSense labeled toilets, we would save nearly 640 billion gallons of water per year, equal to more than two weeks of flow over Niagara Falls!
Mojo motivation #2. Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use, or about 30 gallons per household per day. That’s nearly 1.2 trillion gallons of water used in the United States annually just for showering, or enough to supply the water needs of New York and New Jersey for a year! Check out your shower head and look for a WaterSense label (much like EnergyStar).
So save water, and save energy. Find a new connection and broaden your view of energy. Get that mojo working.
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When you compare the skylined cities of New York and Charlotte you might not think they have much in common. On the surface it’s cul-de-sacs vs. boroughs, Bobcats vs. Knicks. And now, Cam vs Tebow. But if you dive a little deeper you find both cities have something very unique in common. Both have launched innovative approach to illustrating energy usage data.
If you like tracking energy use in your home, you may be really intrigued to see what’s happening in New York City. Thanks to a website developed as part of a research project conducted in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University in Manhattan you can see the city’s energy consumption block by block.
This interactive aerial map details an estimate of delivered energy consumption by tax property, contingent on the weather and building function. The data reflects public information such as building square footage (tax lots) from city planning maps, detailing two residential categories, and facilities dedicated to education, healthcare, warehouse, office and retail (differentiated, for the most part, by borough – an office building in Manhattan likely has energy needs different than those of an office building in the Bronx). Buildings that include first-floor retail with supplemental floors of office or residential space are also accommodated – they thought of everything.
If you know the address of your favorite building, you can zoom in and find out their estimated annual energy use. For example, the Empire State building’s estimated annual electricity use is 26,372 (103) kWh. Pretty cool, huh?
In Charlotte, Duke Energy has partnered with Charlotte Center City Partners, Cisco, Verizon and others to launch a unique sustainability program called Envision Charlotte that takes energy usage data even one step further. Envision Charlotte, uses Duke Energy’s Smart Energy Now® to display near real-time energy data to commercial buildings in the urban core. The program is creating awareness and driving behavioral change through interactive kiosks and grassroots outreach with office workers throughout uptown Charlotte.
With a goal to cut energy use up to 20 percent by 2016 the program hopes to transform uptown Charlotte into the most environmentally and economically sustainable urban core in the country. This will avoid approximately 220,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases or, simply put, save enough energy to power 40,000 homes. You can see the real-time data at www.SmartEnergyCharlotte.com.
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The crack of the bat. The smell of lush green grass. The gentle whoosh of a low flow, energy efficient urinal. It can only mean one thing: major league baseball opening day is here, and with it comes an opportunity to see which teams LEED the standings in energy efficient stadiums.
While many major league baseball teams may be not be immune from gambling on a multimillion dollar contract for a left-handed middle reliever that may or may not pan out, more teams are recognizing that taking steps to make their cathedrals of baseball more energy efficient pays good dividends – financially, and as environmental stewards.
Recent stadium construction projects in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and now Miami have taken steps to achieve LEED certification. The city of Los Angeles has announced intentions to build a LEED certified football stadium; after that, all they’ll need to do is find a team to play there.
Miami Stadium, the new home of the newly renamed Miami Marlins, is a bit of an engineering marvel as the first LEED silver certified ballpark with a retractable roof. The three heat-reflecting roof panels that span the stadium collectively weigh 19 million pounds but can still move at a pace of 39-feet per minute when opening or closing, more than can be said of several of the league’s heaviest (literally) hitters. Powered by 76 10 horsepower electric motors, the roof can open or close in about 15 minutes at a mere cost of about $10 – good luck spending less than that during one trip to the concession stand. Large glass panels at the ends of the stadium will also reduce the need for lighting.
And a tropical location is not a prerequisite for having an energy efficient stadium. Target Field opened in 2010 in Minneapolis and also is LEED certified. The stadium includes a large cistern that wraps around the field’s warning track, collecting rain water that is filtered and reused to irrigate the field and wash down the seating bowl. Target Field also is a hub for public transportation options, including rail, bike and bus routes. A team of low-emission sled dogs will also be considered for use in fan transportation in April and September.
Also, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., was the first stadium to earn LEED silver certification when it opened in 2008. As with the stadiums in Minneapolis and Miami, the park was built on a former brownfield location. The inclusion of efficient field lighting is expected to reduce energy costs by nearly $500,000 over 25 years, and additional measures, including Light Emitting Diodes powered scoreboards and heat-recovery ventilation in the locker rooms will drop costs further. Low-flow faucets, dual-flush toilets and air-cooled chillers – instead of water-cooled, will save nearly 10 million gallons of water each year.
With all of this saving, these teams should have plenty of money to spend on that spaghetti-armed middle reliever.
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In late 2011, Duke Energy was approached by Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity to participate in a ground breaking energy efficiency project. Our ears perked up at the phrase “energy efficiency….”
In conjunction with the City of Charlotte and corporate sponsors, they were working to turn a local vacant home into a model of energy efficiency for affordable housing in our region. Aptly named the Goodwill/Habitat ReHouse, the effort would rehab, remake, repurpose and repopulate a foreclosed home for a future Habitat for Humanity family.
How cool is that? Not only does the project give us a chance to help spread the word about energy efficiency, it also helps the community and a deserving family. Obviously, we were in!
The home, located at 2420 Barry Street in Charlotte’s Villa Heights community, was donated to Habitat by the City of Charlotte, and construction was led by Goodwill Construction Services. It was completely renovated with Energy Star-rated products and materials, including special roofing, siding, low-flow water fixtures, compact fluorescent lighting and drought-resistant landscaping. And construction is now complete!
To celebrate, an open house event is being held this weekend (2/18 from 12-5 and 2/19 from 1-5). Tours will be given of the house to teach folks about energy efficiency, tell them why it is important and show them the “good, better, and best” ways to make a home energy efficient. This includes information on sealing and insulating walls and roof, buying Energy Star products, and updating windows.
So come on out this weekend, see the great work the Goodwill/Habitat teams did on the house and learn how we can help you make your home more energy efficient – even without the help of the Goodwill Construction Services team!
Note: Parts of the project description were stolen shamelessly from the ReHouse website. I couldn’t see a reason to reinvent the wheel :).
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It’s that time of year again… . The time when weather personalities stop all scheduled programming and predict dire snow storms causing a rush on bread, eggs and milk – at least in grocery stores all over the south.
While Duke Energy cannot forecast the weather, we do offer winter weather preparedness and energy saving tips via email that our customers can put in use during such events. Now you can feel better about adding a bottle of wine to the cart when you pick up the obligatory bread, eggs and milk to be enjoyed while you watch the snow mound up in the yard. So sign up for Energy E-lerts email today before the first big storm of the season. It’s easy – just click on the link below.
Energy E-lerts >>
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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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“The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist.”
I think of those words often in my role as program manager for Duke Energy’s Fuel Funds (Heating Assistance Programs -Share the Warmth (Carolinas), Heatshare (OH), Wintercare (KY), and Helping Hand (IN)). How many of us are fortunate enough to serve in a role that allows you to live your passion? I’m lucky enough to do just that. On a daily basis, I talk to or meet someone who is struggling to make ends meet, maybe as a result of a job loss or illness or some other unforeseen circumstance.
I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with 4 people who were assisted though our Fuel Funds last winter. Just like you and me, they worked every day, took care of their kids or spouses and lived their lives. Then something happened. A car accident, an illness, or a combination of bad breaks. They found themselves falling behind on everything, including their utilities and were threatened with disconnection. Perhaps just like you or me, they didn’t know where to turn for help because they have never needed it before.
Thankfully, through the generosity of Duke Energy customers, employees and shareholders, through corporate contributions, donations and matching funds, over $3.2 million dollars in heating assistance was provided to customers across Duke Energy territories this past year. The face of poverty is growing and changing… and it looks a lot like all of us. By donating, even $1, we can make a real difference in the lives of our neighbors.
So please, take a moment to consider giving. Your donation of even $1, will make a real difference in the lives of our neighbors. Information on how to contribute can be found at:
“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
– Winston Churchill
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