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Duke Energy deal could impact ENC utility bills

By Elizabeth Bynum
Published On: Aug 06 2014 10:40:06 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 28 2014 10:43:45 PM CDT

Duke Energy Progress and the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) announced today that Duke Energy Progress will purchase the Power Agency’s ownership in certain generating assets. This deal could impact the utility rates of many who live in Eastern Carolina.

The purchase price for NCEMPA’s ownership interest in the plants, fuel inventories, and spare parts inventory is $1.2 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, approvals must be received and the transaction completed by the end of 2016.

NCEMPA consists of 32 cities and towns in eastern North Carolina. NCEMPA participants own and operate their electric systems and serve nearly 270,000 retail customers.

NCEMPA members’ distribution assets are not part of the agreement, and will continue to be owned and maintained by those members. This means the towns, cities, or municipalities will still be in charge of the utility sales. In addition, the towns will be able to keep their municipal utility departments, which include utility poles, line crews, bucket trucks and customer service departments.

“This agreement provides positive benefits to Duke Energy Progress customers
including long-term fuel savings that help keep rates affordable,” said Paul Newton,
Duke Energy president – North Carolina. “We’ve been investigating options to lower our costs for several years while preserving the benefits of public power,” said Graham Edwards, ElectriCities chief executive officer.

NCEMPA was formed in 1978 and is managed by ElectriCities of North Carolina, based in Raleigh. NCEMPA currently maintains partial ownership interest in several Duke Energy Progress plants, including Brunswick Nuclear Plant Units 1 and 2 (Brunswick County), Mayo Plant (Person County), Roxboro Plant Unit 4 (Person County) and the Harris Nuclear Plant (Wake County).

We spoke to Mayor of Ayden, Steve Tripp, about the Duke Energy Progress deal. Ayden is one of the town's impacted by this agreement.

"It's a very historical day for our community," Tripp said. " Doing this deal with Duke Energy Progress, doing a purchase of our assets, we are going to reduce our debt to almost 70 percent and that's going to help lower our rates to our consumers."