Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Williamsburg HomeTown Chamber presented the Image Award for April to Duke Energy. For the past 18 months, since the merger of two energy companies with deep roots in South Carolina, the “new” Duke Energy has provided retail electric service to the citizens of Williamsburg County. With the creation of the new company, Duke Energy became the nation’s largest investor owned utility, serving more than 7.2 million customers in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and central Florida. With international operations located in the Central and South American countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Peru, Duke Energy is recognized worldwide as a leading corporation with sharply focused objectives in the development of electric power, gas distribution operations, and other energy services in the Americas. With an eye on the “energy future,” Duke Energy Renewables is a leader in developing innovative wind and solar energy solutions for customers throughout the United States. Currently, Duke Energy’s alternative energy assets (wind and solar) are located in 12 US states, and produce almost 1,800 megawatts of emission-free electricity.
Creating an expanded service territory that now touches 30 of the Palmetto State’s 46 counties, with the merger came Duke Energy’s reputation for aggressive economic development efforts and a legacy of strong local community support. Over the past 18 months, Duke Energy has made substantial economic development project investments throughout the former “Progress Energy” footprint. Speaking on the “new company,” Duke Energy’s representative for Government & Community Relations, Theo Lane said “it was critically important after the merging of two great energy companies that we set the tone in South Carolina for what we wanted the “new” Duke Energy to look like, and what we wanted our valued customers to expect of us. First, and foremost, is the delivery of safe, affordable, and reliable energy. But, as a community partner, we also want to be viewed by our customers as standing with them in support of initiatives that they find to be important. I am very proud that Duke Energy has a strong history, and a continued corporate vision, of philanthropy and local investment. We know that investments in the communities we serve bring mutual success – and I believe that defines and embodies partnership.”
Locally, Duke Energy has stood behind their words, and “partnered” with local organizations, such as the Felician Center, Vital Aging, Williamsburg County Schools, 4-H, and the Chamber. From a regional perspective, significant investments have been made in support of the technical college system and programs that enhanceworkforce readiness and industrial recruitment, that give students the vision of a pathway to technical careers.
The value of energy is probably never more recognized than when it isn’t available. The perception and reputation of an energy company is probably never more at risk than when customers sit in the dark…. In early February, that fact could not have been more clear to Williamsburg County citizens. In the aftermath of one of the most devastating ice storms to ever impact our region, the “new Duke Energy “ stood ready to be tested. With confidence in the forecasts of their own Meteorology Department, they immediately mobilized internal resources from the Midwest and Florida, bound for South Carolina. More than 2,200 line technicians, vegetation management teams, and additional personnel were staged in our region to await the storm. Hundreds of additional Duke Energy employees, from Upstate SC and NC, took on specialized storm roles to support the restoration efforts. In a restoration effort that SC Emergency Management officials called “remarkable, and unprecedented,” Duke Energy deployed more than 1,000 restoration vehicles; cleared more than 6,900 trees from lines; replaced more than 11,000 spans of wire; replaced more than 67,000 feet of primary and secondary lines; logged more than 860,000 customer inquiries; and restored more than 940,000 outage events.