Chevrolet has added Progress Energy, an energy company, to its two-year demonstration and research program of the new 2011 Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle (EV) with extended range.

The EV program, which includes the Electric Power Research Institute and 10 utilities around the nation, plans to introduce customers to EVs, advance vehicle electrification and establish vehicle charging programs to pave the way for consumers.

As a program participant, Progress Energy will receive 12 Chevrolet Volts starting in the first quarter of 2011 to be split between the company’s Carolinas and Florida service territories to conduct a variety of utility service roles.

Progress Energy will gather data from driver surveys and charging stations and will study the impact of the vehicles on the electric grid under the extended demonstration program that will deliver100 Volts to the participating utilities across the US.

Chevrolet has funded this program with a grant of more than $30m from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the US Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Progress Energy chairman, president and CEO Bill Johnson said that the company is committed to developing the necessary infrastructure to enable widespread use of electric vehicles to help customers save money and reduce their impact on the environment.

“This partnership with Chevrolet will allow us to better serve our customers as the Volt and other plug-in vehicles become available in 2011 and beyond,” Johnson said.