After passing the General Assembly with near-unanimous support, Governor McCrory signed Senate Bill 305 last Thursday, approving measures that will lower energy costs for many eastern North Carolina communities. With the governor’s signature, Senate Bill 305 became the second JOBS Agenda bill passed into law in 2015.
This act allows dozens of impacted eastern North Carolina communities to proceed with a sales agreement between Duke Energy Progress and the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA). Under the agreement, Duke Energy Progress can purchase stakes in power generation facilities currently owned in part by NCEMPA, with the goal of reducing electricity rates and spurring economic growth in Eastern NC. While the sales agreement had already been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it required state legislative action to proceed.
NCEMPA consists of 32 cities and towns in eastern North Carolina. According to this press release, NCEMPA customers currently pay as much as 35 percent more than customers in other parts of the state for electricity, a consequence of NCEMPA carrying close to two billion dollars in decades-old debt. Under the agreement, NCEMPA will reduce its debt by more than 70 percent – leading to lower rates for their customers and removing one of the largest obstacles to economic development in eastern North Carolina. Duke Energy Progress will take ownership of a lower-cost electricity supply, which is anticipated to generate approximately $70 million in fuel savings per year.
Senate Bill 305 positively impacts a part of the state where high energy costs have burdened families and hindered economic development and growth. We applaud the strong leadership of the Governor, House and Senate in leveling the statewide playing field to attract, create and retain jobs.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber