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Charlotteans Testing Advanced Energy Technologies

Commercial and residential customers in a south Charlotte, N.C., neighborhood are testing some of the latest energy technologies available. These pilot programs help us better understand how digital technology can improve the reliability of our power delivery system, as well as help our customers take control of their energy use. In addition, the testing will continue to help us understand the interaction of all the technology components.

Solar Panels

A total of 213 solar panels have been installed at the McAlpine Creek substation, which serves nearly 17,000 customers. The panels can generate about 50 kilowatts of electricity — enough to serve about five average-sized homes. In addition, seven homeowners in the area are participating in our North Carolina distributed solar program. Each home was outfitted with rooftop-mounted solar panels in 2010. Collectively, these solar installations can produce 16 kilowatts of electricity.

Energy Storage

Last year, Duke Energy assessed large-scale battery technology at the McAlpine Creek substation site, and we will test additional storage technology in 2011. Energy storage is important because it can allow Duke Energy to overcome the intermittent nature of solar power and meet peak energy demands without having to turn on older, less-efficient plants, or purchase power on the spot market.

Digital Smart Meters

Duke Energy has installed approximately 17,000 digital smart meters in south Charlotte, giving customers access to valuable data on their power usage.

Home Energy Management Systems

In 2009 and 2010, more than 150 residential customers tested our first-generation home energy management system. Participants received data on their recent energy usage, so they could make informed decisions going forward. The technology also enabled customers to remotely control their homes’ temperature settings, as well as small appliances. In 2011, 50 residential customers are receiving next-generation systems, which feature handheld, touch-screen devices.

Communication Nodes

Digital communication “nodes” were mounted alongside electric transformers. These devices gather information from digital equipment, including smart meters, and send it over a telecommunications network to Duke Energy. We use the information for billing and power grid management.