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Electrify my ride: Two major power companies will spent $600M to flip their fleets

Posting in Energy

How can any company hoping to convince its corporate customers to use less power or commit to other sustainability measures if it hasn't made the same commitment?

It makes sense to me that some utility companies really are amping up their commitment to renewable energy sources and energy-saving business practices. Realistically, how can they convince businesses to do the same if they're not changing their own habits?

So, it's pretty smart, then, that Duke Energy and FPL Group (FPL at some point stood for Florida Power and Light) have announced a plan to start transitioning their entire corporate fleets of U.S. utility trucks into plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles in 2010.

This is not a cheap project: the initial money commitment will be $600 million, although I am sure that number will change. Nor will it happen overnight: the companies say that it will take about 10 years to pull this off. Here are the details that have been made available publicly.

Both Duke Energy and FPL Group are on the progressive end of the spectrum when it comes to renewable energy development. I actually spoke with FPL Group a couple of days before the fleet announcement was made. Not only is the company the largest producer of wind power in North America, which the world's largest wind farm (the 736-megawatt Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas), the company also is the top producer of solar power in North America.

FPL Group actually already has about half of its fleet (about 2,412 cars) running on biodiesel. The company has about 300 hybrids and plug-in hybrids in service.

In its latest sustainability report, FPL Group reports that its demand management programs have helped avoid the need to build out 12 power plants. Here's an admirable statistic: Even while FPL Group increased its power generation capabilities by 123 percent since 1995, the company has decreased its sulfur dioxide emissions by 84 percent and its nitrogen oxide emissions by 70 percent.

Hey UPS and Federal Express: I know you're both testing hybrids and alternative modes of transportation for your fleets. What's your next move? We're waiting.

So,

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure