NC Municipalities Struggle with Power Agencies

The following was written by Van Crandall an active member of the NC Sierra Club. It's an important subject that hopefully draws the attention of state and local officials across North Carolina.

Many residents of NC municipalities are getting hammered by high electricity bills, resulting from investment decisions that were made almost 3 decades ago into centralized power-plants (largely nuclear i.e. highly expensive) and municipal distribution systems, most of which fall under the “NC Eastern Municipal Power Agency” (NCEMPA). This agency relies mainly on Progress Energy operated power-plants to provide wholesale power to the member municipalities.
Towns and cities such as Greenville, Rocky Mount and Wilson that own municipal power systems are each saddled with over $400 Million in long-term debt - even after 28 years. Kinston has over $200 Million in long-term debt, while Elizabeth City, Lumberton, New Bern, Tarboro and Washington each have over $100 Million in long-term debt. There are many more.

These municipalites are also seeing some of the highest monthly power bills due to historically cold weather. In January, Elizabeth City was billed $3.4 million for the use of 36 million kilowatt hrs. Combine that with a recent 18 percent rate increase and some business owners are paying up to $600 to cover the electricity bills.
Clearly, energy efficiency retrofits and weatherization of residences offer the best hope for short-term relief to reduce electricity consumption and expense.

Here are two more links if you would like to learn more. Virginia Pilot and Rocky Mount Telegram

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