(Raleigh, NC – Jun. 1, 2018) Environmental Defense Fund, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Foundation and Sierra Club today reached a settlement agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) to strategically focus the utility’s efforts on modernizing North Carolina’s electricity system in a three-year pilot program.
“Duke Energy Carolinas’ unprecedented investment in a grid modernization program will put North Carolina on a path toward a clean energy future,” said Dionne Delli-Gatti, Director, Southeast Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. “If approved by the North Carolina Utility Commission, this program will improve grid efficiency, lower emissions and empower people to reduce their energy use.”
Once implemented, the negotiated grid modernization, battery storage, data access, and vehicle electrification components of the program will result in substantial environmental benefits. Voltage optimization upgrades alone – which adjust voltage to match people’s precise electricity needs – will reduce emissions equivalent to taking approximately 30,000 cars off the road and produce energy savings equivalent to the power generated by 35 (2-megawatt) wind turbines that run year-round. The agreement also includes a significant investment in new electric vehicle charging infrastructure and increases energy storage capacity, enabling the use of more renewable energy.
This agreement reduces DEC’s investment in the program to $2.5 billion – significantly less than the $7.8 billion the utility initially proposed. The spending will be more targeted, focusing on new integrated technologies that will reduce pollution across the power sector and provide customers with more control over their energy use. While there are still significant opportunities for the utility to improve on this effort, specifically by addressing the needs of low-income and large-scale commercial and industrial users, North Carolina will significantly benefit from a smarter, more interactive grid to maximize renewables.