Our customers count on us to deliver reliable electric service every day. Providing that high quality of service requires that we make regular investments in our power plants, and in the lines that carry power from the plant to your home.
Since our last rate case in 1987, Duke Energy Progress has invested nearly $11 billion in the power systems that serve our customers. Those investments have helped us maintain a reliability rate of 99.97 percent, ensuring that power is available where and when our customers need it.
More than 70 percent of our proposed rate increase will be used to pay for significant investments made to retire older, less-efficient coal-fired power plants and build cleaner, natural gas-fueled plants. The proposed amount also includes the construction of transmission lines needed to carry electricity from these plants to the communities that we serve.
Natural gas-fueled plants emit about half as much carbon dioxide as coal-fired plants. The switch to natural gas also virtually eliminates emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, and reduces mercury emissions.
Learn more about our two newest natural gas-fueled plants, which represent an investment of more than $1.3 billion:
We are also constructing a new, 600-MW combined-cycle unit at the Sutton Plant in Wilmington, N.C., which is scheduled to begin operation in 2014.
Duke Energy Progress is in the midst of retiring 30 percent of its N.C. coal-fired power plant fleet. These plants have served our customers reliably for more than 50 years, but are much less clean and efficient to operate than technologies available today.
Retiring these plants now will help to keep rates lower in the long-term, and provide environmental benefits for decades to come. Learn more about coal plants we have recently retired:
We have a responsibility to deliver power safely and reliably to the 1.3 million North Carolina customers who count on us every day. To do that, we invest millions to build and maintain power lines, substations and other components of the electric system that deliver electricity to you. We maintain more than 70,000 line miles in the Carolinas, including 40,000 miles of overhead lines.
Since our last general rate case in 1987, we have invested more than $1 billion dollars in new transmission lines and nearly $4 billion in new distribution lines, substations and other equipment. A portion of the proposed rate increase will cover these types of investments in system reliability.
We are also making our grid more efficient and intelligent. Our distribution system demand response (DSDR) program is a state-of-the-art smart grid technology that uses thousands of sensors and controls to make the distribution system operate more efficiently during periods of high customer demand.
As a result of our ongoing efforts, Duke Energy Progress has achieved a reliability rating of 99.97 percent. And our comprehensive storm response preparedness and response plan ensures we are well prepared to quickly and safely restore power when mother nature strikes.
A key component of ensuring safe, reliable service for our customers is maintaining trees and other vegetation along our overhead line routes. Trees are part of the natural beauty of the Carolinas, but trees and other vegetation are also one of the leading causes of outages for utilities in the Southeast.
In 2011, Duke Energy Progress increased its investment in vegetation management by 40 percent through 2014 to 2015. This increase will further enhance service reliability and ensure that trees along our lines are trimmed at regular intervals.
Learn more about our vegetation management program by visiting the Duke Energy website.
Ensuring that our power plants, electric lines and equipment operate safely and reliably is our objective every day and across every mile of our system.
In the nearly two years since tsunamis caused accidents at nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, we have worked closely with the U.S. nuclear industry, the Nuclear Energy Institute and global resources to understand the events and implement changes to make our plants even safer and better protected.
The company’s response includes in-depth inspections and analyses, physical changes, additional equipment to monitor and respond to potential emergencies, and plans for additional safety and security initiatives.
Part of our proposed rate increase includes costs associated with implementing these systems and equipment. We have also made investments to further improve the performance and reliability of our nuclear plants in North Carolina.