CHARLOTTE – Pointing out that the infrastructure to support electric vehicles “cannot support the current and future pace” of electric vehicle demand in North Carolina, Duke Energy is seeking regulatory approval to invest $76 million in a program across the state from in-home charging stations to commercial vehicle support such as buses.

“North Carolina’s current pace of EV infrastructure availability cannot support the current and future pace of EV growth, and as EV adoption increases, more investment in EV charging infrastructure is necessary to sustain market growth,” Duke says in a regulatory filing that was made with the North Carolina Utilities Commission on Friday and was formally announced Monday.

Duke Energy says the program spread over three years has an aim to “spur EV adoption.” The Utilities Commission must approve the proposal. Duke Energy began working on EV program studies in 2011 and with state approval launched in 2012.

The energy giant declared in the filing: “The adoption of electric vehicles in the United States is growing at a significant pace, and [Duke Energy companies] recognize that they must prepare for and better understand the electrical needs and impacts of this growing population.”

The filing and announcement note that demand for EVs in North Carolina is growing at a tremendous rate. The number of registered EVs in the state surged to more than 10,000 in 2018 from 2,055 in 2017.

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To support that growth the state has some 600 charging stations with only 43 that provide “fast charging,” each limited to two ports.

Citing research, Duke says marketshare for EVs in North Carolina will surge to 8 percent of light vehicles from just over 1 percent today.

However, several factors such as infrastructure availability will impact that growth, Duke notes in the filing. Other factors include vehicle availability and state as well as local policies.

More than 40 EV models are already available compared to just five in 2011, Duke notes.

“Coupled with this growth, the light-duty passenger EV market continues to expand with faster charging speeds and longer driving ranges. Additionally, automobile manufacturers are moving into the medium to heavy-duty EV markets to offer electric school and transit buses, as
well as electrified cargo and delivery trucks. As of January 2019, about half of all alternatively fueled school and transit bus models available on the market are electric.”

If the proposal is approved, Duke says the funding will more than double the number of public charging stations and overall, including private stationst, “almost 2,500.”

“North Carolina deserves a cleaner and smarter energy future, and supporting the use of electric transportation is a Duke Energy priority that will benefit our communities, customers and our state’s future,” said Lang Reynolds, Duke Energy’s director of Electrification Strategy, in announcing the plan. “This initiative will help accelerate public and private EV use while also reducing carbon emissions.”

Here are key components of the proposal as outlined by Duke:

  • Residential EV Charging: This program will provide a $1,000 rebate for qualifying Level II charging stations for up to 800 residential customers. Level II charging allows customers to charge their EVs up to six times faster than a standard wall outlet.
  • Public Charging: Duke Energy will install and operate more than 800 public charging stations across North Carolina, including DC Fast Charging, Public Level II and multifamily locations, which will expand the state’s network of EV charging stations.
  • Fleet EV Charging: The program will provide a $2,500 rebate for 900 qualifying charging stations for commercial and industrial customers who operate fleets that are transitioning to electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Municipalities and universities also qualify for these rebates.
  • EV School Bus Charging Station: Duke Energy will provide financial support to eligible customers to procure up to 85 electric school buses. Duke Energy will install the associated charging infrastructure.
  • EV Transit Bus Charging Station: Duke Energy will install and operate more than 100 electric transit bus charging stations for eligible transit agencies electing to procure electric buses. Electric transit buses eliminate diesel emissions and reduce fuel and maintenance costs for transit agencies.

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