Duke Energy Deal Could Slash Eastern Carolina Electric Rates

Duke Energy has agreed to buy assets of the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency, meaning electric bills for thousands of people in Eastern Carolina could eventually be reduced.

The $1.2 billion deal was announced this morning, after months of negotiations.

Thirty-two cities are involved in the deal. Among those cities in the east are Greenville, New Bern, Kinston, Washington, Ayden, Farmville, Belhaven, Robersonville, La Grange, Hookerton and Hamilton. Residents of those cities have been strapped with high electric bills because of debt incurred decades ago when they invested in nuclear power.

With the purchase of its generating assets, NCEMPA would reduce its debt by more than 70%, from $1.9 billion to approximately $480 million.

"Our primary goal is to secure a long-term, reliable power supply for NCEMPA members at the lowest possible cost," said John Craft, chairman of the NCEMPA Board of Commissioners and La Grange town manager. "We are committed to work together toward that end. The announcement today is a positive step toward our goal."

Duke and NCEMPA says the deal must still meet with regulatory approvals.