Starting in September, some Wake Forest families and businesses will pay a little less for electricity.
The average residential utility customer in Wake Forest will pay about $1.64 less each month, or about $129.05.
Small commercial customers will pay about $30.79 less, and large commercial customers will pay about $242 less, according to the town.
The Wake Forest Board of Commissioners recently voted 3-2 to lower electricity rates – a change that comes a year after 32 municipalities that make up the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency decided to sell power plant shares to Duke Energy Progress.
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Wake Forest residential utility customers will see a rate drop of about 1 percent, but customers in some other towns are seeing bigger savings. Electricity rates in Clayton fell 4.8 percent, and rates in Benson fell about 8 percent.
The difference in Wake Forest, Mayor Vivian Jones said, is that the rates never drastically increased for customers.
“Because of our growth over the past 20 years, we have been able to absorb most of the rate increases that the power agency has passed on to the towns,” Jones said.
Since the 1990s, the town has raised electricity rates twice, she said.
Many municipalities, including Raleigh, buy electricity directly from companies like Duke Energy Progress. But Wake Forest provides electricity through Wake Forest Power, which buys electricity from the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency. The group acts as an intermediary between the 32 municipalities and utility providers.
The towns get their electricity from Duke plants, including Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill.
Though much of the debt was wiped out as part of the $1.25 billion deal with Duke Energy Progress, municipalities must still pay off a remaining balance owed for the original purchase.
Wake Forest owes about $4.4 million, according to the ElectriCities website. The group provides management services to public power towns in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Wake Forest will make payments on the debt until 2025, said David Barnes, chief legal and ethics officer for ElectriCities.
Town Commissioner Jim Thompson voted against the new rates, saying he was disappointed Wake Forest couldn’t offer more savings to utility customers. The new rates include a higher service charge – $15.95 instead of the current $9.89.
He said he wanted to learn more about the reasons behind the service-fee hike.
“I was hoping to get some more of that information,” he said. “But obviously, they were ready to vote.”
The Board of Commissioners plans to request another electricity rate study in 2020.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi