Deal Could Lower ElectriCities Power Rates Across Eastern Carolina

Duke Energy said it is negotiating to buy ownership in power plants that have saddled more than 30 eastern North Carolina municipalities with high electric bills to pay off construction costs.

If this deal with Duke Energy goes through, it can have a major impact on utility bills in several cities and towns that are included in the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency, which is managed by ElectriCities.

Among those cities in the east are Greenville, New Bern, Kinston, Washington, Ayden, Farmville, Belhaven, Robersonville, La Grange, Hookerton and Hamilton.

Brokering the deal will not happen overnight. Duke said any deal would take months to negotiate and gain regulatory approval.

Democratic Representative G.K. Butterfield released a statement overnight, applauding the possibility.

"I'm happy to see these companies work towards a solution that would be beneficial to them and to the dozens of cities they serve," wrote Butterfield. "I'm hopeful that this deal, if approved, will result in significantly lower utility bills for consumers and ratepayers and relieve the debt burden of many communities."

In 2011, WITN's Dave Jordan reported the 268,000 customers who get their power from one of the 32 municipalities that make up ElectriCities, have bills 20 to 35 percent higher than other utility customers.

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