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Duke Energy's Gaston County Research Project Wins Top Industry Award

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) installation in Gaston County, N.C., has been named one of the top projects of the year by the editors of POWERGRID International magazine and PennWell Corp.

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Duke Energy's battery installation at the Rankin Substation in Mount Holly was named Project of the Year for integrating renewable energy into the grid. The award was presented at the recent DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Diego.

At the Rankin Substation, a 402-kilowatt/282-kilowatt-hour sodium nickel chloride battery system is being used to smooth out large minute-by-minute peaks and valleys in production from a nearby 1.2-megawatt solar facility at a local industrial complex.

"As clouds roll by, solar output can go from 100 percent to practically zero," said Dan Sowder, Duke Energy's senior project manager. "With enough solar, that could disrupt the electrical grid. The Rankin Substation project is testing whether our battery setup can smooth out the fluctuations caused by solar's intermittent output."

Duke Energy is a leader at incorporating battery technology in the electric grid, with installations in Texas, Indiana and North Carolina. The Rankin project demonstrates how batteries can directly support the integration of solar onto the grid. Project partners include: Italy-based FIAMM Energy Storage Solutions, who provided the batteries, and Chicago-based S&C Electric Company.

"We have to explore every avenue to make sure the grid can handle the influx of more renewables," said Sowder. "We want to see if a central battery installation at a substation can support the grid. In the future, there may be neighborhoods full of rooftop solar. We need to be ready for that."

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