Case Study

Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

Biopharma Manufacturer Solves Growing Pains by Outsourcing Backup Power Operations


A global leader in diabetes care, this North Carolina-based customer owns a manufacturing plant that produces a large portion of the diabetes-related products in the U.S. market. This plant has expanded several times during the last two decades and is one of the company’s strategic production sites responsible for formulating diabetes medicines. These formulation processes, along with downstream operations for filling, inspection, assembly and packaging, are mission-critical and must be protected.

The North Carolina site had been undergoing rapid growth to meet the patient demands of the marketplace, and the pace of construction was straining the customer’s ability to operate and expand without interrupting production. Not only does the customer require large amounts of highly conditioned power, but its drug manufacturing processes cannot tolerate sustained power outages. If power is disrupted, its production requirements could be compromised, resulting in potential product waste and unnecessary expenses.


Opportunities Beyond the Status Quo

During the most recent plant expansion, the customer turned to the Energy Services team at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions for a design to modify and add backup power equipment to protect planned and future critical loads. The goal was that no matter how much the facility grew, there would always be backup power protection, with an emphasis on reliability, in the event of utility power interruptions.

The customer’s requirements for high reliability have resulted in a collaborative relationship with Duke Energy dating back to the early 2000s. Through this partnership, the following opportunities were realized:

    • Providing regulated backup power as a service where Duke Energy manages and covers all operating and maintenance costs for a fixed monthly fee
    • Providing new and larger uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units as a managed service for all critical loads
    • Designing a backup generation system that is scalable to meet current and future loads
    • Assuming ownership of, operating and maintaining the customer’s fleet of generators as a managed service
    • Continually working with the customer to ensure that all critical loads are protected as the equipment is relocated within the facility to accommodate new processes and products

With input from Duke Energy’s experienced generation and engineering team, it was determined that the existing backup power and UPS systems were inadequate for the long-term expansion needs. Therefore, a crucial question became how to add the new manufacturing capacity without interrupting existing production.


The Phases of Successful Implementation

PHASE ONE: Duke Energy provides new mission-critical equipment and merges it with existing equipment under one new managed service agreement.

    • Transitioned existing equipment already operated by Duke Energy
      – Two 1,500-kilowatt (kW) diesel generators
    • Added new backup generation, UPS units and switchgear
      – Four 600-kW diesel generators
      – Three 1,100-kilovolt-amp (kVA) UPS units
    • Seamlessly merged both systems during a scheduled nine-day outage
    • Delivering ongoing long-term maintenance, monitoring and testing of both systems

PHASE TWO: Acquisition of existing customer-owned emergency backup generation equipment to Energy Services, as a managed service:

    • One 130-kW natural gas-fired generator
    • Three 1,750-kW diesel generators
    • High-level fault current limiting devices


“We executed the project in a short time frame and without
any negative impact on the customer’s insulin production.”
 – John Boone, Energy Services, Business Development Solutions Manager

Resilient Solutions


Our team of experts determined that additional backup generation, switchgear and UPS power supply systems must be built independent of the existing systems and in such a way that both the old and new systems could be merged during the scheduled nine-day outage. For a fixed monthly fee, Energy Services added four 600-kW diesel generators and three 1,100-kVA static UPS units to the two 1,500-kW units that Duke Energy already owned and maintained. Together, this represented 5.4 MW of emergency backup generation and 3,300 kVA of uninterruptible power.


Energy Services proposed to purchase and own the customer’s existing 5.4 MW of emergency backup generation to provide proper long-term testing and support through a managed service* partnership. By taking accountability for measurable results, this solution offered the customer peace of mind and eliminated the stress of managing and executing numerous construction projects at once.

Following an in-depth feasibility evaluation, Duke Energy was awarded a contract to acquire, operate and maintain the customer’s generation fleet consisting of 5.38 MW of diesel generators. This project required significant retrofit work to relocate one of the generators to carry the plant’s expanded load, along with the required switchgear and other auxiliaries.


Sustainable Results

Duke Energy’s partnership with this customer goes well beyond typical engineering or technical support. Rather, it is an ongoing relationship designed to help the customer improve financial performance, free up capital and other resources, and reduce risk. Duke Energy’s solution solved a number of other problems, including limiting high levels of fault current that could have harmed the customer’s internal switchgear.

Duke Energy provided an expanded emergency backup power and electrical system to protect all critical loads. These projects included multiple backup generators and UPS units to allow for redundancy to remove the risk of single points of failure. Installing the new UPS units and emergency backup generation, including construction, testing, integration and connection, occurred with no interruptions to production.

Duke Energy now owns, operates and maintains large backup generation systems on the customer’s existing site. In the event of an unexpected interruption, Duke Energy is contracted to provide the customer with 10.78 MW of backup generation as quickly as possible.

The customer is now focused on producing world-class products, and Duke Energy is committed to providing world-class energy reliability to this site.


How Duke Energy Can Help You

Our Energy Services team can help advance your core business by improving your financial position, providing better operational performance and lowering your risk. We not only understand how to design, build, own and maintain mission-critical systems, but we also perform a variety of electrical projects, including working with high-voltage lines, substations, switchgear, electrical distribution systems, chillers, heat exchangers and LED lighting systems.


The above projects were performed by Duke Energy’s Business Energy Services team. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions leverages these specialists to deliver innovative solutions to customers.

*A managed service gives the customer a fixed monthly price for the term of the contract. Duke Energy assumes all the risk of performance degradation, failure and repair.

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We look forward to speaking with you about your backup power, energy resiliency and electrical infrastructure needs.