A deal between two North Carolina electricity providers could finally give some Eastern North Carolina residents relief from monthly electricity bills that rank among highest in the state.
The N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency and Duke Energy announced Monday a plan for Duke to buy $1.2 billion worth of assets held by the municipal power group, which is managed by the Raleigh-based Electricities group.
The municipal power group that serves 32 Eastern North Carolina communities has long been saddled with high levels of debt taken on when the cities bought into nuclear and coal-power plant projects decades ago and costs soared during construction. That led to high levels of debt with the costs passed on to consumers through higher electricity rates.
The N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency and Duke Energy deal, if given final approval, would lower the debt owed by the towns from $1.9 billion to $480 million, according to a news release from the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency.
The drop in electricity costs for consumers would still vary by community, depending on how much outstanding debt is still owed by each community.
“When we entered these negotiations, we knew it wasn’t feasible to expect to completely eliminate the debt by selling our assets. But this agreement has the potential to reduce our current debt by more than 70 percent,” ElectriCities CEO Graham Edwards said, in a written statement “That’s a significant decrease in our costs and the savings would be directly passed along to NCEMPA members.
Towns in the 32-city Electricities network include Lumberton, Kinston, Selma, Smithfield, Apex, Elizabeth City, Wilson, New Bern, Washington, Tarboro and Edenton.
Many of the communities that depend on Electriticies for electricity also have stagnant economies, with high levels of impoverished residents.
As part of the plan, Duke Energy would buy the municipal power group’s stakes in four power plants – the Brunswick (County) Nuclear Plants, the Mayo and Roxboro plants in Person County and the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in Wake County, according to the press releases form the companies.
The move would still need approval from state and federal energy regulators.
Do you live in one of the communities affected by this? We’d like to hear from you about how high your electricity bills are now and what you think of today’s news.
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