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Public/Private-Sector Cooperation Brings Lower Energy Rates to Eastern NC

Communities in eastern North Carolina have traditionally been subject to higher electricity rates than those in other parts of our state and region. But residents of those communities received some good news last week, as Duke Energy Progress and the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) announced the completion of an assets deal that will reduce rates in impacted communities by as much as 17 percent this year, according to this News and Observer article. The deal – which allows Duke Energy Progress to purchase $1.25 billion worth of stakes in NCEMPA-owned power generation facilities over a 30-year period – was made possible by the passage of NC Chamber-backed Senate Bill 305 in April.

NCEMPA consists of 32 cities and towns in eastern North Carolina. Prior to this deal, NCEMPA customers paid as much as 35 percent more for electricity than those in other parts of North Carolina, a consequence of NCEMPA carrying close to two billion dollars in decades-old debt. The power agency will reduce its debt by more than 70 percent under this new agreement, leading to lower rates for customers. Additionally, 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. Lower energy costs stemming from the agreement will help level the playing field for communities in the eastern part of our state, removing one of the largest obstacles to economic competitiveness and helping job creators in those communities better create, attract and retain new job growth.

“This purchase will provide long-term fuel savings for Duke Energy Progress customers and provide an important economic benefit to eastern North Carolina,” said Duke Energy-NC president Paul Newton. “The agreement represents the best spirit of private and public sectors working together toward a common goal.”

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber