Plenty of details have yet to be made public, but there is also great reason to cheer news that Duke Energy has made a formal offer for the power plant assets that for too long have wrapped an anchor of debt around Rocky Mount and other cities in the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency.
Graham Edwards, chief executive officer of ElectriCities, which represents the power agency, told Telegram business reporter John Henderson this week that he can’t disclose the terms yet, but City Councilman Andre Knight said he is optimistic about Duke’s offer.
If a deal is accepted by both sides, Edwards said, residential, commercial and industrial customers in Eastern North Carolina could soon have utility bills that are “more competitive” with the rates regularly enjoyed by Duke Energy customers.
The power plant debt has long been a burden for customers of all types in Rocky Mount, Wilson, Greenville and 29 other cities that make up the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency. A sale of the power plant assets would help lower utility bills that currently must help pay for the debt service on the plant assets. That longtime debt has been a huge factor in driving up utility rates in Rocky Mount and other member cities.
Utilities relief also would help Rocky Mount compete for industries that have a large need for electricity.
The Rocky Mount City Council deserves a large share of credit for continuing to seek ways to reduce the utilties debt burden. Rocky Mount City Manager Charles Penny said he is cautiously optimistic about the deal, pending details. But it’s safe to say this is the closest Rocky Mount customers have been in a long time to getting a welcome break in utility bills.