Duke Energy will replace its company cars and trucks with plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, Bloomberg News is reporting.
Charlotte-based Duke made the announcement today in conjunction with the Florida utility, FPL Group, at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York.
The joint commitment will mean the two utilities will buy more than 10,000 vehicles and could generate as much as $600 million for the vehicles' makers, Bloomberg reported.
The transition won't start until Jan. 1 and is expected to take 10 years. Passenger cars and smaller trucks are planned, and the utilities will test prototypes of bucket trucks in 2011 and 2012.
"A 10-year commitment gives us time to adopt, test and integrate new technology into fleets as a wider range of vehicles are developed," Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers told Bloomberg.
Raleigh-based Progress Energy owns seven Toyota Prius hybrid cars for research purposes and has the Southeast's first plug-in hybrid electric bucket truck. It also is one of seven utilities that has been testing the Ford Escape hybrid. Ford has said the plug-in can get up to 120 miles per gallon.
Progress Energy and Duke Energy have both been testing technology that would promote plug-in electric cars in a way that won't overload the electricity grid and require new power plants.
The U.S. awarded $2.4 billion in federal grants for companies including Ford, General Motors and Chrysler last month to encourage the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, according to Bloomberg.