Duke Energy, a U.S. utility company, announced that it will phase out CATL products at its civilian projects and decommission energy-storage batteries made by Chinese battery maker CATL at one of the country's main Marine Corps bases in response to congressional pressure.
The move, which has not before been made public, coincides with senior American authorities issuing a warning that important U.S. infrastructure connected to networks, such as the electrical grid, is being targeted by hackers associated with the Chinese government.
Following concerns from lawmakers and experts regarding the battery supplier's close ties to China's ruling Communist Party, Reuters reported in December that Duke Energy had temporarily disconnected industrial-scale CATL storage batteries from a project on the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune.
Less than a year after a ribbon-cutting ceremony with American military commanders, the batteries have been permanently shut down. This is just the most recent instance of how the geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States is impacting both Chinese and American firms, sometimes dramatically.
Duke Energy's decision to veer away from its original battery strategy may have an impact on the utility's supply chain and could be detrimental to the Chinese-dominated energy storage market.
In the first week of January, Duke Energy sent at least five executives, including its chief security and information officer, to meet with the staff of the House of Representatives' select committee on China in an attempt to allay congressional concerns about potential network vulnerabilities stemming from the batteries, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
The sources claimed that although Duke Energy executives assured the staff of their confidence in the security of the batteries, they also indicated a wish to address concerns raised by Congress.