Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) on April 12 announced the $13bn, 10-year project to modernize North Carolina’s electric system called, “Power/Forward Carolinas.”
The company said that the initiative will help it better serve its customers with focused investments that:
- Move targeted power lines underground to help reduce outages
- Enhance grid technologies to self-identify problems and reroute power, decreasing outage numbers and duration
- Advance smart metering infrastructure to enable more bill-lowering tools
- Protect against physical and cyber security threats and keep the grid safe
- Support the sustainable growth of renewable energy and emerging technologies
Regarding the company’s plan to move targeted power lines underground, a Duke Energy spokesperson told TransmissionHub on April 13, “These lines have not all been identified at this point but the primary focus will be on undergrounding hundreds of miles of poorly performing overhead services.”
The spokesperson added that nearly 10% of the least reliable areas on the grid are aboveground facilities located in hard-to-access areas, behind homes, and built before undergrounding practices were common.
According to Duke, its plan will result in additional bill-lowering tools designed to help customers reduce their energy costs; an average of 13,900 jobs each year; $10.4bn in salaries and wages; nearly $800m in state taxes and $550m in local taxes; and a total economic output of $21.5bn over the 10 years.
Meeting the demands of today’s technological and customer-driven changes to the state’s grid, which is the sixth largest in the United States, is becoming more challenging, the company said.
“We must embrace a forward-thinking approach to building a smarter energy future for North Carolina,” David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, said in the statement. “We have been working hard to generate cleaner, smarter electricity, and now we must invest to make the system that delivers that energy even smarter.”
On whether the company needs state regulatory approval for the initiative, the company spokesperson said: “We do not need regulatory approval to launch/begin Power/Forward Carolinas grid modernization. We will need regulatory approval to recover these investments in the future through the appropriate regulatory process.”