When I was asked to lead the Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) effort at Duke Energy, I was excited but also nervous. I knew very little about cars in general. As far as I was concerned, when it came to what I drove, the bigger the better and as long as my car could fit my two kids, two dogs, and an occasional extra kid, I never gave it a second thought.
However, that all changed last spring when I took a Chevy Volt home for the first time. I was excited to be driving it and plugging it into an outlet in my house. I was nervous realizing that I was one of the first people driving a PEV and I certainly did not want to be THE first person to wreck one! I was proud to be part of something that could reshape so many things associated with transportation in the United States.
I was awakened to see how PEVs could truly become a movement as more of us get tired of watching the fighting and unrest unfold over oil, watching the environmental impacts of car emissions, and the lack of control we feel as gas prices continue to rise while paychecks stay flat.
Through our pilots, Duke Energy is learning technical ins and outs of charging stations, as well as when, where and for how long drivers charge their cars. These projects help us get a grasp of the cost and effort involved in installing public charging stations. Through our collaborations with other utilities, charging station manufacturers and automakers, the early work that we are doing is shaping the industry.
As I look ahead at what’s coming, I am encouraged by all of the new players joining the industry; I am fascinated by the advancement in battery technology and charging station design; I am optimistic because of all of our customers’ interest in electric vehicles; and, most of all, I am grateful that Duke Energy is committing the resources to not only prepare us for what on the PEV horizon, but to keep us on the forefront of this game changing movement.