Answer Man: How's Duke Energy preparing for more electric vehicles? – Citizen Times

Today’s burning question asks about Asheville’s and North Carolina’s future with electric vehicles, and what Duke Energy is doing to prepare for it. Got a question for Answer Man or Answer Woman? Email Executive Editor Karen Chávez at KChavez@citizentimes.com and your question could appear in an upcoming column.
Question: I’m seeing more and more electric vehicles on our roads here in Asheville and the surrounding area. What is Duke Energy saying about how this is currently and, in the future, going to increase the demand for energy in kilowatt hours? Will the current generating facility in its present capacity be able to meet the demands? What types of additional buildouts and at what costs will be required to provide the energy that is needed to support the electrification of vehicles? With the continued increase in weather events related to climate change that may disrupt energy service, what concerns and plans does Duke energy have to address that issue as it relates to charging batteries on electric vehicles and keeping them on the road?
Answer: The company is planning for a more electric future in a few ways, Duke Energy spokesperson Logan Kureczka said. 
“Meeting customer demand for electricity is a balancing act that requires precisely matching the energy being consumed with the energy being generated at every moment of the day,” she told me via email. “Managing that dynamic power flow is the secret to delivering reliable power to customers, and our long-range planning includes projections for EV growth as well as other factors such as North Carolina’s expected population growth.”
For starters the company is looking toward vehicle-to-grid technology. A new proposed pilot program with Ford could allow some customers who lease an eligible electric vehicle to get a reduced monthly lease payment from Duke Energy, provided that they store excess energy and feed the power back to the grid when there’s high demand.
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“Think of it as a network of batteries that function like a virtual power plant – in fact, their ability to provide backup power can help strengthen the grid as a whole during severe weather,” Kureczka said. “And beyond incentivizing EV owners, such programs help reduce costs across the entire system, benefitting all customers.”
As far as concerns about keeping vehicles charged while on the road, the company is “helping N.C. towns and cities locate around 280 public charging stations in the state, including in multifamily dwellings and traditionally underserved communities,” she said. “This effort will include 40 fast chargers,160 public Level 2 charging stations at key public locations and 80 Level 2 charging stations at multifamily dwellings.”
“We are committed to supporting all of the states we serve in the effort to create charging infrastructure and we will solicit customer feedback to continuously improve our work,” she said.
Ryan Oehrli covers public safety, breaking news, courts and other beats for the Citizen Times. Comments? Questions? Tips? Send them to coehrli@citizentimes.com or 252-944-6816. Please support local, daily journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.