Co-ops brace for anticipated rate hike

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Submitted by Roanoke Electric

AULANDER – North Carolina electric co-ops, including Roanoke Electric, are bracing for wholesale power increases, resulting from the multi-billion-dollar cost Duke Energy must pay to comply with new coal ash regulations.

Duke Energy is a power source for the North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, which supplies electricity for most of the state’s electric co-ops, including Roanoke Electric.

The country’s largest electric company made headlines in 2014 when it spilled 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River, prompting stiffer regulations and costly compliance expenses—expenses Duke Energy now intends to pass along to NC consumers through rate hikes.

The timing and impact of wholesale power rate increases will vary from co-op to co-op. It has not been determined when or to what degree Roanoke Electric rates will be affected.

“The co-op and its member-owners will not be responsible for any costs related to coal ash spill cleanup,” said Roanoke Electric Chief Executive Officer Curtis Wynn. “That falls to Duke Energy’s shareholders. However, our supplier does purchase electricity through contracts with Duke Energy, and the costs incurred by Duke Energy for compliance with coal ash regulations will be integrated into wholesale rates. In turn, Duke Energy’s compliance expenses will make up a part of the costs member-owners pay for electricity.”

It has been six years since Roanoke Electric’s last rate adjustment, also the result of increased wholesale power costs.

Wynn stressed that Roanoke Electric remains steadfast in its commitment to provide reliable, safe and affordable electricity to its member- owners. It continues to invest in system improvements, new technologies and energy-efficiency programs to help offset the burden of increased wholesale power costs and minimize its impact on member-owners. These include the following:

Installing a fiber-optic network to provide more efficient and reliable electricity;

Implementing safeguards to protect the electric system from cybersecurity threats;

Exploring and evaluating alternate power-producing resources, such as solar panels and batteries; and

Providing products and services that give member- owners better control and management of energy consumption through smart technology.

“We will continue finding ways to keep our member- owners’ rates as low as possible,” Wynn added. “It remains a fundamental part of how we do business as a not-for-profit utility owned by the people we serve.”