Duke Energy launches $13 billion project to upgrade NC’s electric system

Charlotte-based Duke Energy said Wednesday it will spend $13 billion on a 10-year project that will “modernize” North Carolina’s electric system, resulting in lower bills, more jobs and fewer outages.

The effort will generate nearly 14,000 jobs a year, Duke said in a statement.

The project, called Power/Forward Carolinas, is intended to safeguard the electric system against storms and outages, make it more resilient to cyber attacks and physical threats, help expand renewable energy and stimulate economic growth, Duke Energy added.

Among other goals, the initiative will include bill-lowering tools designed to help customers reduce energy costs, result in a total economic output of $21.5 billion over a decade, move certain power lines underground to help reduce outages and support growth of renewable energy.

“When we improve our energy infrastructure, we not only improve power quality and reliability for everyone, but we help grow our economy and create jobs while keeping energy at a reasonable price,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president.

North Carolina’s electric grid is the sixth largest in the U.S., Duke said. Meeting consumer demands has become “more challenging,” the company said, so that is why Power/Forward is launching.

The project announcement comes days after Duke Energy filed a civil lawsuit against more than two dozen insurers in order to help cover some costs tied to its expensive coal ash cleanup across the Carolinas. Duke also has been seeking more control over North Carolina’s fast-growing solar industry.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta