Duke Energy has filed a $56 million proposal of Phase II programs to continue the advancement of transportation electrification in North Carolina.

North Carolina electrification

An executive order issued by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D-NC) on October 29, 2018, set a statewide goal of getting 80,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. It currently has around 26,000 electric vehicles in the state.

Duke Energy’s $25 million Phase I program was approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) in November 2020. It included such pilots as a rebate of $1,000 for up to 500 Duke Energy Carolina and 300 Duke Energy Progress residential customers and a $2,500 rebate for up to 900 commercial and industrial customers that operate fleet vehicles. It also funded 85 electric school buses at $215,000 per bus.

In Phase II, Duke Energy’s efforts will lead to more than 1,000 charging ports being installed in the state. The program will also:

  • Build on the company’s earlier pilot by expanding DC fast charging on state highways, charging at multifamily dwellings, and provide financial support to school systems to purchase 60 electric school buses.
  • Support the continued development of the competitive market for DC fast charging by requiring multiple providers of the hardware and software, creating a transparent stakeholder informed process around vendor selection that allows for alternative pricing by site hosts.
  • Create a pilot for a tariffed EV charging program for residential and business customers. This program allows for customers to install and operate EV charging stations for a low monthly rate, with the customer making all operational choices, including the brand of hardware and network. In many cases, this may be a zero upfront cost option for customers charging EVs.

Meanwhile…

Yesterday, Duke Energy hiked its North Carolina energy rates at an average of 4.7% across all of the utility’s customer groups. The NCUC approved the rates earlier in 2021, and although price hikes are no fun, it actually could have been a lot worse. The Associated Press reports:

Duke Energy initially requested a significantly larger rate increase to help pay for cleaning up coal ash at its plants, but agreed to a settlement earlier this year.

Duke agreed to absorb $1.1 billion in cleanup costs between 2015 and 2030 after years of litigation about a 2014 coal ash spill.

Electrek’s Take

Why is Duke Energy being so proactive about electric vehicles in North Carolina? State pro-electrification policy gave Duke Energy a push to implement these initiatives.

Duke was then moved along by the NCUC, which instructed Duke Energy to organize a collaborative stakeholder process, then file paperwork on any stakeholder-developed pilot programs. Stakeholders included government officials, town representatives, and dozens of other nonprofit organizations.

But, of course, there’s something in it for Duke anyway, who declares itself “a major supporter of electric vehicles.” Utilities make money off EVs. As the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy explains:

Utility operating cost savings can be achieved when EV drivers charge their vehicles at off-peak times, increasing energy sales without requiring the utility to invest in new grid infrastructure.

[For example,] research from Synapse Energy Economics found that EVs have generated more than $800 million in revenue above costs for [California’s] two largest utilities. 

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