Progress Energy: Investing in Plug-in Hybrid Technology
Demand for electricity is growing as people continue to move to the South and existing residents build larger homes and use more electronics. However, even as demand for electricity is growing, so is the desire to address the challenges of global climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. Progress Energy is pursuing a balanced energy strategy that includes investing in aggressive energy-efficiency programs, innovative renewable and alternative energy resources and state-of-the-art power plants.
One alternative energy technology that might show up in driveways soon is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Progress Energy has one of the nation’s largest utility PHEV programs because it believes that this innovative technology will help customers save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
PHEVs are gas-electric hybrid vehicles that have been modified to include a larger battery that can be charged by being plugged into a typical electrical outlet. This modification gives the vehicle the ability to achieve more than 100 miles per gallon, significantly saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 70 percent.
Progress Energy is a leader in PHEV research and owns a test fleet that includes seven Toyota Prius PHEVs, a Ford Escape PHEV and the Southeast’s first plug-in hybrid electric bucket truck. Data from these vehicles will be used to study PHEV performance and potential impacts on the utility infrastructure. In Florida, Progress Energy helped the University of Florida and the City of St. Petersburg retrofit two regular hybrid vehicles into plug-ins for inclusion in their respective fleets. These additional research vehicles will help pave the way for PHEVs in the Sunshine State.
The company is committed to developing the infrastructure necessary for the widespread adoption of PHEVs in society. An example of this commitment is the trial of the new V2Green technology that began in 2008. The V2Green system will allow future PHEV owners to plug their vehicles in at any time, but only receive a battery charge when electricity rates and demand are lowest. This technology has been installed on the company’s Prius PHEVs. A central computer system will remotely control the flow of electricity to the PHEVs and collect data on the vehicles’ locations, mileage and battery charge levels.
In addition to working with up-and-coming technology companies like V2Green, Progress Energy is also partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute, General Motors and Ford to facilitate the integration of PHEVs into the nation’s electric grid. These coalitions are testing new technologies, ensuring that proper charging infrastructure exists at homes and businesses and developing standards for vehicle-to-grid communications and customer billing systems.
One of the biggest challenges facing PHEVs is the battery, because the current batteries tend to be very expensive and bulky. To overcome this obstacle, Progress Energy joined with NC State University to create the Advanced Transportation Energy Center in April 2008. This innovative research center will focus on developing a lighter, cheaper and more-efficient battery and advanced charging systems for PHEVs.
In February 2009, Progress Energy joined with the City of Raleigh, N.C., and the Rocky Mountain Institute to launch Project Get Ready. This initiative brings together local governments and businesses to help pave the way for PHEVs. One part of this project is developing and installing a small demonstration fleet of public charging stations.
From test vehicles to charging stations, Progress Energy is taking action with advanced vehicle technologies to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, save money and reduce greenhouse gasses. For more information on Progress Energy’s PHEV initiatives, please visit progress-energy.com/environment.