Last updated: July 26. 2014 6:54AM - 708 Views
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RALEIGH — Duke Energy could announce as soon as next week whether a deal has been reached to help reduce high electric bills for customers in Laurinburg, Lumberton and 30 other eastern North Carolina municipalities.

Those close to the negotiations said Duke Energy may be close to finalizing its deal with the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency to potentially purchase ownership interests in power plants.

Still Duke officials declined on Friday to discuss “a timetable” for a possible announcement on negotiations.

“Discussions are continuing and continue to go well,” said Jeff Brooks, a Duke Energy spokesman. “We hope to be able to provide additional information in the near future.”

The North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency previously shared ownership of the power plants — Shearon Harris nuclear plant in Wake County, the Brunswick nuclear plant in Brunswick County and two coal-burning power plants in Person County — with the former Progress Energy. Duke Energy bought Progress Energy in 2012.

If an agreement is reached, an application would be filed with the N.C. Utilities Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval to sell the assets.

Legislation would also need to be passed in the General Assembly.

The structure of North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency, a public power agency, and the cities’ ability to form the agency years ago was established by the General Assembly. At the time, cities were trying to find a way to meet the long-term electric needs of residents in eastern North Carolina.

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