Duke Energy to open test center for commercial EV fleets

Published on February 23, 2023 by Dave Kovaleski

© Duke Energy

Duke Energy is building a performance center to develop, test and deploy zero-emissions light-, medium- and heavy-duty commercial electric vehicle (EV) fleets.

The facility — which will incorporate microgrid integration — will be located at Duke Energy’s Mount Holly Technology and Innovation Center.

“Electric fleet commitments are increasing as companies with ambitious sustainability goals work to decarbonize business operations,” said Harry Sideris, executive vice president of customer experience, solutions and services for Duke Energy. “We are helping speed commercial fleet electrification across the Duke Energy footprint through innovations like this while we electrify our own fleet.”

The center will provide a commercial-grade charging experience for fleet customers evaluating or launching electrification strategies. By the end of 2023, fleet operators will be able to experience a commercial-grade fleet depot integrated with energy storage, solar, and optimization software, showcasing a model for reliable fleet electrification. It will also serve as an innovation hub, allowing Duke Energy to study charger use, performance, management, and energy integration.

The facility will be connected to the Duke Energy grid or powered by 100 percent carbon-free resources through the microgrid located at Mount Holly. It will be the first electric fleet depot to offer a microgrid charging option.

“Moving to zero-emission vehicles in this sector will allow North Carolina to seize the enormous economic potential this transition presents, generating billions in net benefits for our state. Projects like this are key for North Carolina fleet owners to take advantage of the cost savings in transitioning to electric vehicles,” Scott, director of southeast climate and energy, Environmental Defense Fund, said.

For this project, Duke Energy is teaming up with Electrada, an electric fuel solutions company. Electrada invests all required capital “behind the meter” on behalf of fleet owners and delivers reliable charging to fleet electric vehicles through a performance contract. This model seeks to provide a seamless conversion for fleets that removes electric fleet charging price volatility.

“Reducing long-term energy cost and performance risk creates a smoother transition for fleets, increases confidence in electrification, and enables the technology to become more mainstream,” Electrada CEO Kevin Kushman said.

Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) will join Duke Energy and Electrada as a founding participant in the fleet EV charging program.

“This first-of-its-kind, microgrid-enabled fleet depot will be critical to advancing fleet electrification and building confidence with fleet owners. We look forward to collaborating with Duke Energy and Electrada on this important effort,” Jeff Allen, senior vice president of operations and specialty vehicles at DTNA, said.