Duke Energy is a well-known name, and valuable community member across the State of North Carolina. Locally, they have been a long-time Chamber member, and investor in the success of Union County. We spoke with Lisa Parrish, Government and Community Relations with Duke Energy to learn more about the services they provide.
Duke Energy in Union County
I am so glad to have the opportunity to talk about Duke, what we provide for residents in Union County, where so many of our employees work and live. While Duke Energy is headquartered in Charlotte, many of our employees work in Union County where we have operation centers and a solar facility.
Duke Energy serves about 15% of Union County. That’s about 31,000 customers. Since 2021, we have provided about $200,000 in charitable and philanthropic giving, and we pay $1.7 million each year in property taxes.
Focus on Customers
Our primary focus is our customers. We are laser-focused on what the customer needs and what is important to the customer. We know that upgrading our electrical grid to provide improved reliability and resiliency is something that our customers want. We have a number of grid investment projects planned or underway in Union County, including upgrades to local substations and about 15 circuits.
When I talk about a grid, I’m talking about all the wires and poles and power plants that are used to provide and produce electricity to our customers. We call it the biggest, most complex machine ever built in the United States.
Upgrading our grid is part of our clean energy transition to deliver consistent and lasting benefits to our customers. Our state is in the middle of a clean energy transition, with both Republicans and Democrats on board with that. In 2021, there was bipartisan legislation that was passed to put our state on a path to cleaner energy by cutting carbon emissions from our power plants by 70% by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2050.
The legislature passed this landmark legislation and sent it to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which regulates Duke Energy. The Utilities Commission was tasked with filling in the specifics of how to reach those goals. The Commission held several public hearings and Duke Energy also worked with over 500 stakeholder groups to talk about what would be an achievable plan. In December, the Commission issued its order, which, among other items, calls for more investments to upgrade our grid so we can bring on more renewable energy and close coal plants. It also calls for investing in new technology that, for example, will reroute power when there’s an outage in your neighborhood, reducing the number of people impacted. It’s called self-healing technology and it’s like a GPS that reroutes you when you’re driving because of a traffic jam ahead. The Carbon Plan will be revisited and can be tweaked in the future. As we know, there’s new technology coming down the pike, and we want to take advantage of new technology that might not even be fully developed or in place at this time.
Helping Reduce Energy Costs
We know that higher prices and increasing costs are taking their toll on household budgets everywhere. So, Duke Energy is prioritizing affordability. We’re working to provide customers with additional options and ways to take control of their energy use.
For the past two years, we have helped 242,000 customers in North Carolina access financial assistance. Our grid investments give our customers more options and controls over their energy use to help them save money.
Here’s a couple of different things that I just want to throw out there that customers can access on our on our website.
- If you’re a renter or you own rental property. Duke Energy is offering a free energy efficiency program to help renters save. Our Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program allows renters to receive energy saving projects installed in each multifamily residential and common area with no additional cost if you own a home.
- Duke Energy makes house calls. You can schedule an appointment for an energy assessment, and it will help you learn how your home uses energy and how you can save on your monthly bills. Our specialists will also check for air leaks, examine insulation levels, and your appliances.
- If you own a small business, Duke Energy partners with an outside company to provide energy assessments for your businesses. You’ll get recommendations on lighting and refrigeration and HVAC. There are eligibility requirements, but in some cases, 80% of your upgrades can be paid for. We really encourage customers to check out the website, which is loaded with energy efficiency tips.
Energy Saving Tips
- » We have a wonderful magazine called Illumination that can be delivered right to your inbox. It often has news on how you can save money on your power bill. One recent article featured nine energy efficiency habits around the house, many of which were news to me. For example, the average person stands in front of an open refrigerator 33 times a day! So, the energy efficiency tip is to keep the refrigerator closed.
- » Another tip is don’t leave electronics plugged in when they’re not being used. Things like phone chargers and laptops may only pull a small amount of electricity, but of course it adds up.
- » Change your air filters at least every three months, and program your thermostat. 50% of energy is used by your home heating and cooling. The best way to save is to use a programmable thermostat.
- » Fill your dishwasher up before you run it.
- » Seal up air leaks. These air leaks will cost you between 10% to 20% of your heating and cooling bill.
- » Don’t leave the TV on when you’re not watching it.
- » Wash clothes in cold water.
- » And then of course what your mother and father always told you: Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
There are so many ways to reduce energy usage around the house. And we all need to remember these tips because we know we have a hot long summer ahead so we want to keep our energy bills as low as we can.
Last modified: May 4, 2023