Yesterday, the Senate passed legislation, with near-unanimous support, aimed to lower electricity rates and bolster economic development in the Eastern North Carolina.
Senate Bill 305 allows the dozens of impacted eastern North Carolina communities to proceed with a sales agreement between Duke Energy Progress and the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA). The agreement would allow Duke Energy Progress to purchase stakes in power generation facilities currently owned in part by NCEMPA, with the goal of reducing electricity rates and spurring economic and job growth in Eastern NC. While the sales agreement has already been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it requires state legislative action to proceed.
NCEMPA consists of 32 cities and towns in eastern North Carolina. According to this press release, NCEMPA customers currently pay as much as 35 percent more than customers in other parts of the state for electricity, a consequence of NCEMPA carrying close to two billion dollars in decades-old debt. Under the agreement, NCEMPA will reduce its debt by more than 70 percent – leading to lower rates for their customers and removing one of the largest obstacles to economic development in eastern North Carolina. Duke Energy Progress will take ownership of a lower-cost electricity supply, which is anticipated to generate approximately $70 million in fuel savings per year.
This agreement will lower energy costs for communities of eastern North Carolina, positively impacting a part of the state where high energy costs have burdened families and hindered economic development and growth. Lower energy costs in these areas will help level the playing field to attract, create and retain jobs. The NC Chamber supports the legislative proposal and the agreement between Duke Energy Progress and NCEMPA. We will keep you updated on the progress, as Senate Bill 305 moves to the House for consideration.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber