- Duke Energy announced Tuesday that it will construct an electrification depot at its Mount Holly Technology and Innovation Center in North Carolina to help develop, test and deploy zero-emissions light-, medium- and heavy-duty commercial electric vehicle fleets.
- Duke will partner with EV infrastructure developer Electrada to develop the fleet charging center, and Daimler Truck North America will be a founding participant in the fleet EV charging program.
- The charging center will be capable of providing energy from either the bulk electric system or the utility’s Mount Holly microgrid, which is powered by carbon-free resources. According to Duke, the project “is the first electric fleet depot to offer a microgrid charging option.”
Duke is positioning itself to facilitate fleet electrification at a time when companies are focused on their environmental footprint.
“Electric fleet commitments are increasing as companies with ambitious sustainability goals work to decarbonize business operations,” Harry Sideris, executive vice president of customer experience, solutions and services for Duke Energy, said in a statement. “We are helping speed commercial fleet electrification across the Duke Energy footprint through innovations like this, while we electrify our own fleet.”
A 2021 report from RMI surveyed fleet managers for local and state governments, utilities, universities, private technology companies, and delivery services, and concluded that 81% had already begun electrifying their fleets.
Duke’s electrification center will provide a “commercial-grade charging experience for fleet customers evaluating or launching electrification strategies,” the utility said in its announcement. The fleet depot is expected to be operational by the end of this year.
Electrada’s investment in the project will go towards the charging depot, according to the announcement, which “allows Duke Energy to focus on distribution system performance to support the predictable addition of electric load over time.”
Daimler Truck North America has a manufacturing facility near the planned charging center. The proximity “creates an ideal opportunity to utilize the chargers at the site and also demonstrate charging technologies to customers visiting the plant in the future,” the companies said in their announcement.
There is “enormous economic potential” in shifting commercial transportation to zero-emission vehicles, said Will Scott, director of Southeast climate and energy, Environmental Defense Fund. “Projects like this are key for North Carolina fleet owners to take advantage of the cost savings in transitioning to electric vehicles,” he said.
Fleets make up about 3% of all vehicles registered in the United States but can “have outsized influence on the successful electrification of the entire transportation sector,” according to RMI’s report.
"I think this is the kind of product that can be replicated at other fleet depots across the state and across the country. It's a model for how third parties can come in and work with customers and utilities in order to streamline the [electrification] experience," Scott said.