See how much energy use has changed over the years.

Can you imagine a life without electricity? It wasn’t so long ago that households first started using electric lighting and appliances. Take a walk down memory lane with us to see how we’ve gone from those first electronics, to meter readers and checks in the mail, to all the great advancements of today.


1882 first dam

The first home in the world was lit with electricity in Appleton, Wis. The system was powered by hydroelectric energy and designed by Thomas Edison.


1899 Florida Power Cooperation

One of our predecessors, St. Petersburg Electric Light & Power Company, began to offer electricity in Florida. Twenty-eight years later, they would become Florida Power Cooperation.

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Ten electric companies in the Midwest consolidated to form Cincinnati Gas & Electric. Meanwhile, in Kentucky, six gas and electric companies consolidated to form the Union Light, Heat & Power Company.

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1904 Catawba Hydro General View

The first hydroelectric plant on the Duke Power Company system began powering agriculture and industry in the Carolinas. The hydroelectric dam, near Fort Mill, S.C., created Lake Wylie. Most people were not yet using electricity at home.

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Twenty-four-hour electric service began in St. Petersburg, Fla., and meters were installed. Electricity cost 20 cents per kilowatt-hour.

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1920 Coal Buck Steam Station

By now, many homes were using electric appliances like washing machines and vacuum cleaners, and utilities began using coal to generate electricity and keep up with the growing demand.

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1930 great depression

As the Great Depression brought a decline in wages and tough times for our company and customers, we waived minimum charges for power, worked alongside mill owners to help keep factories open and unemployment down.

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1950 family in living room

After WWII, people wanted to make their homes and families comfortable. They began purchasing more electronics to modernize their lives. Energy consumption was up 36%, and families were using refrigerators, range top ovens, TVs and air conditioning.

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1961 CPL

One of our predecessors, Carolina Power & Light, purchased its first bucket truck.

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The first bucket truck demonstration for Florida shareholders was held.

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We completed the construction of Cowan Ford Hydro Station, which created the popular Lake Norman just north of Charlotte, N.C.

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1977 CPL Bill Insert

Energy efficiency became a thing. Congress established the Department of Energy to, among other things, diversify energy resources and promote conservation.

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1980-90 CYID358 1990 CSC003

Electricity use kept growing, with all sorts of new electronics and expanding industries.

Meter readers visited homes to read electric meters, and customers wrote and mailed or hand-delivered checks to pay their bills.

The dot-com era caused a reshuffling of economies and the boom of the data center. Around-the-clock demand for energy use transformed the way that we needed to deliver electricity.

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We announced our first 24-hour centralized customer service center.

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Early 2000s

2000 monroe solar 2000 DE residence

  • The digital era – and energy use – continued to grow as smartphones and tablets became popular.
  • Smart meters started arriving at homes, improving response times for outages, and making it easier to start and stop service. Customers started being able to see detailed usage data and take better control of their energy spending.
  • We initiated efforts to reduce carbon emissions and began investing more heavily in renewable energy.
  • We launched energy efficiency programs in all the regions we serve, helping customers take control of their energy use.
  • We began serving more customers than ever, expanding our territory to include not only the Carolinas, but also parts of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Florida.

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2013 CFL lightbulb

CFL lightbulbs had become popular, using 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. By 2013, we would distribute nearly 46 million energy-efficient lightbulbs throughout our service areas. They would be replaced by LEDs soon after as the more efficient option.

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2016 disney solar aerial

We introduced a one-of-a-kind solar facility at Walt Disney World, shaped like Mickey’s iconic ears.

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TODAY DE Renewables TODAY electric vehicles duke energy

  • Major advancements in grid technology now make it possible to reroute power to help avoid outages in storms or extreme temperatures.
  • LED lighting is helping customers save energy and money, and energy-saving programs help customers make their homes more energy efficient and their bills lower.
  • Smart home technology has customers adjusting their thermostats, lighting and more from their mobile devices.
  • The Duke Energy website and app make it easier than ever to track how you’re using energy, pay bills, report and track outages and more.
  • We’re helping customers access more solar energy to power their homes and businesses.
  • We’re helping expand the electric vehicle charging network and helping make electric vehicles more accessible.
  • New, cleaner energy technologies are diversifying the energy supply, reducing dependence on imported fuels and helping limit impact on the environment.
  • We’re on our way to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

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What’s next?

WHATS NEXT EVs, Solar and Wind Farms

We’ll keep doing everything we can to bring you an even smarter, more convenient, more reliable energy future.

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