Fayetteville PWC residential electric rates unchanged this year; will increase in 2017

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Residential electric customers for the Fayetteville Public Works Commission will see no bill increases this year, but they will next year.

The PWC board voted 4-0 Wednesday to approve new electric rates for residential, commercial and industrial uses.

Per usual, the rate changes will cover the next two years, with the first round of changes to take effect with bills sent in May.

In that round, residential customers will not see any rate increases, said Carolyn Justice-Hinson, the spokeswoman for the city-owned utility.

Commercial and large-power users would see their bills either rise or decrease, depending on their usage, starting in May.

But beginning in May 2017, residential customers would see their bills rise, under the PWC action Wednesday. For a household that uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours in a month, the bill would rise from $112.50 to $115.40 - an increase of almost 2.6 percent.

According to a staff presentation to the PWC board Wednesday, the utility's cost to buy wholesale electricity from Duke Energy is estimated to be slightly reduced this year, thanks to lower natural gas prices. However, Duke Energy's plans to close several coal ash pits across the state will cost Duke Energy Progress customers, including the PWC, an estimated $2billion.

Also at the meeting, the PWC board voted to adjust rates for some Hope Mills residents, who have complained they are paying varying rates. The move could mean refunds for some Hope Mills PWC customers.

PWC bought Hope Mills' utility system in 1998, with residents being billed at the same rate as Fayetteville. However, because of annexation and other factors, some residents have been paying higher base rates than others.

At a Hope Mills Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, PWC Chairman Darsweil Rogers said the board would look into the matter.

Under the PWC board's action, all Hope Mills residents will pay the same, "inside" rates. Justice-Hinson said it could take several months to identify which town residents are eligible for refunds.

"The PWC board wanted to resolve the confusion related to this agreement and insure rates are applied in a fair and consistent manner," Rogers said in a statement Wednesday. "We value our customers and are happy that we have been able to work with Mayor (Jackie) Warner and other Hope Mills officials to work out a resolution for our customers."

The PWC is one of the area's largest electrical providers, with 80,000 customers. According to a comparison provided Wednesday by the PWC, the utility's residential rates are lower than other local providers, except for Duke Energy customers.

Staff writer Rodger Mullen contributed to this report.

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