It has high-tech labs, top scientific experts and a membership that makes up much of the utility industry. It’s the Electrical Power Research Institute, or EPRI – an independent, nonprofit leader in the development of key technologies in the electrical industry. One of EPRI’s four main sites is in University City. Experts conduct research and development on all things electricity: from how it’s generated, delivered and used; its reliability and efficiency; its effect on health and safety; and how it impacts our environment. “Our ultimate mission is to serve the public interest,” says Don Kintner, EPRI communications manager. Funded by membership participation in its research activities, EPRI has reach: members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the U.S., according to Kintner.
What is the purpose of the Charlotte office and laboratory? EPRI employees from each of its four research sectors are located on site in Charlotte. The Charlotte location also has three laboratories. The Nuclear lab supports research on nuclear power’s role in meeting world energy demands. The Transmission and Sensor lab supports research on the infrastructure needed to aid utilities, and in developing the next generation of equipment and technologies. The Fossil Generation lab is an advanced materials testing laboratory. Using state-of-the-art sampling technology, extreme heat and pressure are applied to specimens to simulate aging of the alloys. This allows companies to better predict the remaining operating life of their system, and strategically plan for inspections and replacements during scheduled down times.
In what ways does your organization serve the Charlotte area? EPRI’s research serves utilities located in Charlotte – as well as throughout the United States and internationally – as our ultimate mission is to serve the public interest. The region is home to numerous energy companies, and it is expected that energy-related industries will continue to develop and grow here as well as across the Carolinas. We work with a number of these energy companies in one capacity or another.
What is the focus of your latest environmental research? We are addressing environmental and health implications related to the generation, delivery and use of electricity. Our research answers fundamental scientific questions about environmental, regulatory and health risks associated with air emissions, climate policy, land and groundwater remediation, and other areas to provide solutions that make environmental and economic sense. EPRI uses its data and expertise to inform regulators, decision makers and other stakeholders about a sustainable energy future. What is in the future for EPRI? To fulfill EPRI’s mission, the organization must continually increase the value its members derive from their participation in EPRI research and development programs. We are focused on developing relevant research programs that can successfully be put to work to meet the needs of the electricity sector and, ultimately, the public.
The Electric Power Research Institute is at 1300 W. W.T. Harris Blvd.