If power companies are to be our guides towards a smart grid-based renewable energy future—and I'm not entirely sure that they are—they have to set a good example. That's at least part of the reasoning behind Duke Energy's and Florida Power and Light's announcement yesterday of a $600 million investment to bring more than 10,000 plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles to their fleets in the next 10 years.
The Charlotte, NC and Juno Beach, FL-based utilities say they plan to make 100% of new fleet vehicles either PHEV or EVs by 2020 in an attempt to set the market for electric cars in motion. The initiative is more than just a publicity play—the plug-in vehicles will cut Duke's and FPL's fuel costs by 80% and cut carbon emissions by up to 70% or more, depending on the energy source. The utilities haven't revealed who will supply the vehicles, but chances are they'll be furnished by a car company that is already far along in the affordable EV development process—i.e., Renault or Nissan.
Duke and FPL aren't the first utilities to eschew gasoline-powered fleets in recent months. In March, AT&T announced a $565 million plan to add 15,000 compressed natural gas vehicles (CNG) and hybrid cars to its fleets. The telecommunications giant will also invest in 40 CNG fueling stations to encourage outside developments in CNG technology.
[Via Wall Street Journal]