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Local Tech Wire, Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two of the nation’s largest power generators are giving a jumpstart to the hybrid and all-electric vehicle markets.

Duke Energy and FPL Group said Thursday that they plan to begin switching their company cars and trucks to plug-in hybrid vehicles or all-electric vehicles starting Jan. 1 to help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The commitment by Charlotte, N.C.-based (NYSE: DUK) and Juno Beach, Fla.-based FPL represents more than 10,000 vehicles and potential revenue of $600 million or more for manufacturers.

The goal is that by 2020, 100 percent of all new fleet vehicles will be plug-in electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“A 10-year commitment gives us time to adopt, test and integrate new technology into fleets as a wider range of vehicles are developed,” said Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Duke Energy. “Currently, the only near-term options for available PEV supply are sedans, minivans, vans and a few bucket trucks. Over a 10-year horizon, it is expected that options will be available for most utility service categories.”

The companies say plug-in cars will reduce carbon emissions by up to 70 percent — 100 percent if a vehicle is charged by zero-carbon renewable energy sources — and lower fuel costs by 80 percent.

They say it also will help jump start the market for these vehicles with an estimated 10,000 vehicles valued at some $600 million needed for the project.

The companies made the announcement during the annual meeting of Clinton Global Initiative, started by former President Bill Clinton that brings together the public and private sector to discuss solutions to problems in four areas — climate change, poverty, global health and education.

Duke has 4 million electric customers in five states and FPL is the parent of Florida Power & Light, which has 4.5 million customers in Florida.

The companies are hopeful that their efforts will encourage other firms and organizations to move toward “sustainable transportation,” as Lew Hay, chairman of FPL, said.

“The more organizations that join this initiative, the more we can develop a sustainable transportation future,” he explained. “The Clinton Global Initiative continues to serve as a catalyst for bold commitments to address serious challenges such as energy security and climate change. This commitment will help lead the way to carbon reductions in the second largest source of emissions in the U.S. economy.”