Electric


Audio: Interview with Jon Dawson

Recently I sat down with Jon Dawson to discuss various issues facing the City of Kinston. Here’s the link to the audio podcast: http://www.jondawson.com/

Topics covered:
Electricities/Sale of Power Plants – 0:00
NC Global TransPark to Commerce – 8:30
Vernon Park Mall – 18:15
Baseball in Kinston? – 26:30
Joe Tyson & 2015 Kinston Elections – 29:00

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NCEMPA reaches agreement with Duke Energy to sell generation assets

Press Release
Media Contact: Rebecca Agner, 919.760.6334 or ragner@electricities.org
For more information about ElectriCities visit www.electricities.com

NCEMPA reaches agreement with Duke Energy to sell generation assets

RALEIGH (July 28, 2014) –North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) announced today that both companies’ boards of directors have approved an agreement for DEP to purchase the Power Agency’s generating assets. The $1.2 billion transaction would lower wholesale electric rates for NCEMPA’s 32 member communities across eastern North Carolina if it is completed. The agreement is subject to the execution of an Asset Purchase Agreement and a Full Requirements Power Purchase Agreement between the parties.

“The ElectriCities Board of Directors is very pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Duke Energy Progress,” said Richard Hicks, ElectriCities Board Chairman. “The Board’s overarching goal is to strengthen public power’s future in North Carolina. Reducing NCEMPA’s debt and therefore reducing our overall costs will provide the opportunity for more competitive rates in the 32 member communities.

Although we have a long road ahead of us with regulatory approvals, today is a good day for NC Public Power and eastern North Carolina.”

Negotiations between the two parties have been underway for several months.

“This is a complicated transaction that would require federal and state approvals. It won’t happen overnight,” ElectriCities CEO Graham Edwards said. “Several agencies must agree to the purchase agreement before it becomes official. We remain optimistic that we can work through that process and finalize the agreement.”

“Our primary goal is to secure a long-term, reliable power supply for NCEMPA members at the lowest possible cost,” said John Craft, Chairman of the NCEMPA Board of Commissioners and La Grange Town Manager. “We are committed to work together toward that end. The announcement today is a positive step toward our goal.”

Sale Could Reduce NCEMPA Debt by More Than 70 Percent
The current debt owed by NCEMPA members is approximately $1.9 billion. After selling the assets for $1.2 billion and liquidating certain bond reserve funds, the Power Agency members would share responsibility for outstanding debt of approximately $480 million.

“When we entered these negotiations, we knew it wasn’t feasible to expect to completely eliminate the debt by selling our assets. But this agreement has the potential to reduce our current debt by more than 70 percent,” Edwards said. “That’s a significant decrease in our costs and the savings would be directly passed along to NCEMPA members.”

The exact impact on rates for each community will be different and will depend on a number of factors, such as each community’s share of the outstanding debt, the specific load characteristics and customer mix of the community.

As a part of the transaction, DEP and NCEMPA will enter into a wholesale power contract.

The sale of NCEMPA’s electric generation assets would not affect distribution assets. Public power communities would continue to own the power lines, substations and transformers that carry electricity directly to the consumers. In addition, they would continue to employ their own utility staff and be responsible for issues such as maintenance, customer service and billing.

DEP will notify the NC Utilities Commission that it intends to make a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next month. NCEMPA and DEP entered into exclusive negotiations in January 2014 involving NCEMPA’s ownership in four power plants in North Carolina: Brunswick Nuclear Plant Units 1 and 2 (Brunswick County), Mayo Plant Unit 1 (Person County), Roxboro Plant Unit 4 (Person County) and the Harris Nuclear Plant (Wake County).

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Mayor Murphy’s Statement on the City of Kinston FY 2015 Budget

Tonight the City Council of the City of Kinston voted 2-2 and I broke the tie in favor of the recommended budget as presented by the Kinston City Manager. Here is the statement I gave at the end of the meeting.

Public debate, openness and transparency are essential in our democracy. The State of NC requires that our City Manager present a balanced budget to this body. This Council has the authority to accept, reject or amend his recommendations.

Each and every one of us lives here, works here and plays here. Everyone on this bench and in our presence tonight are financially impacted by these decisions.

We have seen increases because of our wholesale suppliers. We have seen increases because of the Affordable Care Act. We have seen increases because of the needs of our aging infrastructure.

Our electric partners have made it clear that increases are coming and should’ve already come based on wholesale and infrastructure pressures. However, a potential deal with Duke Energy caused there to be a pause in hopes of a record deal for our communities.

Last year we pulled from our General Fund to loan and support the electric fund. We decided then to pay that back this fiscal year. I think we all can agree that this practice is not a long-term solution. Just as continuing the practice of transferring from the electric fund to subsidize our General Fund will one day be obsolete.

Also, this fall we will be making serious, long-term financial decisions regarding our infrastructure to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Ultimately we may need to ask voters for their opinions on how best to finance the replacement of 100-year-old pipes and 30-year-old electrical equipment.

In light of the potential Duke deal and our future discussion of infrastructure, I would encourage some compromise tonight. We can either stomach a small increase in electric or we can take street resurfacing to $0, stop demolishing dilapidated buildings and more.

Unfortunately, we have three options and neither one will make sleeping tonight easier. We can raise a utility rate with the hope of a future decrease, we can raise property tax rates by 5.71 cents, which will never decrease, or we can drastically and negatively affect the momentum we’re gaining in service quality, street resurfacing, planning and quality of life.

I want to thank our City Manager and staff for doing more than this body requested of you. Without your diligent efforts in frugality our choices tonight would be much more difficult.

In closing, we all should concede that this budget only affects the next 12 months and the fall infrastructure discussions, potential vote of the people, and Duke Energy deal will have a greater impact on our community for decades.

This decision is not taken lightly and this body has had ample time to review it, ask questions, seek input, hold a public hearing and now even receive more public comments. I want to thank all of our citizens who came tonight to speak their opinions on the budget. We truly value your opinion and the time you gave to be here.

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WITN7: Kinston Passes Resolution About Possible Power Deal

 

The Kinston City Council passed a resolution Monday in support of ongoing negotiations between the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency and Duke Energy, and the mayor hopes other towns will do the same.

Mayor BJ Murphy says he’s excited about the resolution because it shows other communities that Kinston is serious about the possible deal and how it could impact local power bills.

“This (resolution) was not a necessary step, but considering there are 32 cities involved, it helps send a clear signal to other communities that Kinston is serious and would love to see other municipalities support the effort,” Murphy said.

Duke Energy announced earlier this month that it is negotiating to buy ownership in power plants that have saddled more than 30 eastern North Carolina municipalities with high electric bills to pay off construction costs.

Among those cities in the east are Greenville, New Bern, Kinston, Washington, Ayden, Farmville, Belhaven, Robersonville, La Grange, Hookerton and Hamilton.

In 2011, WITN’s Dave Jordan reported the 268,000 customers who get their power from one of the 32 municipalities that make up ElectriCities, have bills 20 to 35 percent higher than other utility customers.

Mayor Murphy acknowledges the negotiations could take as long as two years but says, “selling our ownership in power plants could make electric rates more competitive, and that’s why we’re taking this step.”

http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/Kinston-Passes-Resolution-About-Possible-Power-Deal-245982051.html

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KFP: Kinston mayoral candidates take center stage

KFP1016_mayoralforum_1

Mayoral candidate Ralph Clark, left, makes his opening statements, while John Marks, center, and B.J. Murphy listen at the mayoral forum Tuesday at community television station TACC-9 on Queen Street.

Sara Pezzoni / The Free Press

Kinston’s three candidates for mayor each had their lone opportunity to address viewers on the issues of the city on Tuesday evening.

Ralph Clark, John Marks and B.J. Murphy spoke at the TACC-9 community television station for a mayoral forum, as the three are looking to be appointed into office by the people after the Nov. 5 election.

Clark, who has spent 32 years in public office, including eight as the former city manager of Kinston, believes his extensive experience and knowledge would be vital in helping the community he has called home since 1999.

“Kinston has been great to me as a city manager and a citizen,” Clark said. “I have a lot to give, and hope (the city) allow(s) me to be the mayor.”

Clark also talked about education in his opening statement, acknowledging that the city council would not be able to intervene in the decision-making process.

“I would be remiss not to mention something about education,” Clark said. “Even though the city has nothing to do with the education in the community, it has to be supported.”

Marks, the pastor and founder of Increasing the Faith Ministries, believes Kinston needs to move in an alternate direction in fixing some of the issues in the community.

“We do need change,” Marks said. “Everybody that I ask or come in contact with, they are always saying that the city needs to be changed. I’m just grateful that our city and the leadership that is present are still doing things, but we still need solutions to a lot of problems. I just want to be an improvement on assets to the city of Kinston.”

Murphy, the incumbent seeking his second term in office, used his opening statement to speak on some of the positives he has seen in Kinston since he became the mayor in 2009.

“I have never been more excited about the opportunities before our community than I am right now,” Murphy said. “Our community is growing, and there are a lot of positive things happening. Just over the past four years, we have had a major focus on redeveloping our community, on making sure we have better streets, and we’ve had a more accountable government than ever before.”

Early voting starts on Thursday, and will run until Nov. 2, with Election Day on Nov. 5.

 

Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

For more information on reruns of the city council and mayor forums, visit tacc9.com.

http://www.kinston.com/news/local/kinston-mayoral-candidates-take-center-stage-1.219056?tc=cr

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KFP: Kinston administrators attend ElectriCities conference in Asheville

By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer 

A conference several city administrators went to recently in Asheville could be beneficial to Kinston residents in the future.

Members of the Kinston City Council and Public Services attended the ElectriCities of N.C. Annual Conference from Aug. 1-3, learning about alternative methods of energy, economic and municipal updates and ways to attract new tourists.

“I thought it was a positive conference,” Kinston City Manager Tony Sears said. “We have to look at some of our options and do our best to implement the right ones.”

One of the issues discussed was tourism; North Carolina experienced a banner year in 2012, with tourism rising in all 100 counties. According to visitnc.com, North Carolina is the sixth-most visited state for domestic visitors.

“We have to continue telling people about what we have in Kinston and get them excited about coming here,” Sears said. “We need to do that not just for those outside of the state, but inside as well.”

With electric rates being a major factor in Kinston, Mayor B.J. Murphy looked at possible alternatives.

“The biggest takeaway for me was the discussion on solar power,” Murphy said. “The city has been faced with two different proposals on solar farms, and with the cost of solar power coming down, it’s almost breakeven.”

Murphy also said finding a way to harness solar power would be very beneficial toward the city.

“One challenge is battery storage,” Murphy said. “When the sun hits solar panel, power goes directly into the line. The challenge is utilizing power when needed. How do you store solar energy, and then distribute the power at a peak time?

“The technology isn’t here yet. We could be looking at the next 10, 20, or 30 years until we’re able to make cost-efficient way of distributing when needed. We’re still prohibited to do so on a massive scale.”

Kinston Public Services Director Rhonda Barwick was impressed with the amount of municipalities across the state coming to the conference.

“It’s always good when you have the information from staff, but it was an added benefit of having mayors and councilmen with good ideas,” Barwick said.

One of the biggest points Barwick drew out of the conference was a push for a Smartgrid system, which would help those paying power bills in the city.

“We’re looking at Smartgrid and seeing if we can afford it and bring it here,” Barwick said. “The system would allow us to query the meter, but there are plenty of other pieces. Customers can come to City Hall with questions about their kilowatt hours and the system would let them know which devices are using the most energy.

“The system would also allow us to give customers the option to select how many kilowatt hours they’ll need per month and let them know how many they’ve used, which helps customers manage their hours better. We could also cut meters on or off remotely, which limits the number of trips we have to take, which is more convenient for us.”

For the administration, the current focus is on finding ways to improve efficiency in the city and looking to help other regions as well in coming to a solution.

“The city of Kinston needs to develop a strategy on ways to upgrade aging infrastructure,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, since so many other municipalities are facing the same issue, we can learn from each other in a collaboration of ideas and policies.”

 

Junious Smith III can be reached 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

Breakout box:

Last year, there were record numbers across the board in visitor spending, including an increase in all 100 counties. Here is the amount of money the state brought in:

n $19.4 billion in visitor spending

n $4.39 billion in direct tourism payroll

n $970 million in state tax revenues

n $579 million in local tax revenues

Source: visitnc.com

Published: Monday, August 12, 2013 at 20:30 PM.
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KFP: Kinston administrators attend ElectriCities conference in Asheville

By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer

Published: Monday, August 12, 2013 at 20:30 PM.

A conference several city administrators went to recently in Asheville could be beneficial to Kinston residents in the future.

Members of the Kinston City Council and Public Services attended the ElectriCities of N.C. Annual Conference from Aug. 1-3, learning about alternative methods of energy, economic and municipal updates and ways to attract new tourists.

“I thought it was a positive conference,” Kinston City Manager Tony Sears said. “We have to look at some of our options and do our best to implement the right ones.”

One of the issues discussed was tourism; North Carolina experienced a banner year in 2012, with tourism rising in all 100 counties. According to visitnc.com, North Carolina is the sixth-most visited state for domestic visitors.

“We have to continue telling people about what we have in Kinston and get them excited about coming here,” Sears said. “We need to do that not just for those outside of the state, but inside as well.”

With electric rates being a major factor in Kinston, Mayor B.J. Murphy looked at possible alternatives.

“The biggest takeaway for me was the discussion on solar power,” Murphy said. “The city has been faced with two different proposals on solar farms, and with the cost of solar power coming down, it’s almost breakeven.”

Murphy also said finding a way to harness solar power would be very beneficial toward the city.

“One challenge is battery storage,” Murphy said. “When the sun hits solar panel, power goes directly into the line. The challenge is utilizing power when needed. How do you store solar energy, and then distribute the power at a peak time?

“The technology isn’t here yet. We could be looking at the next 10, 20, or 30 years until we’re able to make cost-efficient way of distributing when needed. We’re still prohibited to do so on a massive scale.”

Kinston Public Services Director Rhonda Barwick was impressed with the amount of municipalities across the state coming to the conference.

“It’s always good when you have the information from staff, but it was an added benefit of having mayors and councilmen with good ideas,” Barwick said.

One of the biggest points Barwick drew out of the conference was a push for a Smartgrid system, which would help those paying power bills in the city.

“We’re looking at Smartgrid and seeing if we can afford it and bring it here,” Barwick said. “The system would allow us to query the meter, but there are plenty of other pieces. Customers can come to City Hall with questions about their kilowatt hours and the system would let them know which devices are using the most energy.

“The system would also allow us to give customers the option to select how many kilowatt hours they’ll need per month and let them know how many they’ve used, which helps customers manage their hours better. We could also cut meters on or off remotely, which limits the number of trips we have to take, which is more convenient for us.”

For the administration, the current focus is on finding ways to improve efficiency in the city and looking to help other regions as well in coming to a solution.

“The city of Kinston needs to develop a strategy on ways to upgrade aging infrastructure,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, since so many other municipalities are facing the same issue, we can learn from each other in a collaboration of ideas and policies.”

 

Junious Smith III can be reached 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

Breakout box:

Last year, there were record numbers across the board in visitor spending, including an increase in all 100 counties. Here is the amount of money the state brought in:

n $19.4 billion in visitor spending

n $4.39 billion in direct tourism payroll

n $970 million in state tax revenues

n $579 million in local tax revenues

Source: visitnc.com

http://www.kinston.com/news/local/kinston-administrators-attend-electricities-conference-in-asheville-1.185917

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KFP: Kinston field could become state’s latest solar farm

By Wes Wolfe / Staff Writer

Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 21:13 PM.

It’s clean and green vs. dirty and cheap.

And then there’s the scenic beauty thing.

The battle over renewable energy and the resources committed to it stretches from the General Assembly in Raleigh to a farmer’s field on Rouse Road.

Conservatives in the legislature are pushing a bill that would eliminate the state’s renewable energy law, which passed a House committee on an 11-10 vote Wednesday. The purpose of the law was to make energy providers generate at least 12.5 percent of their output through biomass, solar or wind energy by 2021.

Millions of dollars in tax credits are given to further that end. Tax credits could go to a proposed 20-megawatt solar farm on the east side of Rouse Road, north of Carey Road.

The $64 million project comes from the Sustainable Energy Community Development Company, which seeks to energize the economies of economically depressed, rural areas through green energy.

Documents supplied to state regulators by the company suggest the local economic impact should exceed $21 million, and SECDC Chief Operating Officer Shawn LeMond said it could go as high as $40 million.

According to SECDC numbers, there would be a $7.8 million tax base added, with the site generating $117,000 in annual property, service district and fire district taxes.

Jobs would be created, and local businesses would be used.

“So many unemployed, that have been unemployed the longest, are out of the construction industry,” LeMond said. “The construction of a solar farm is simply a big construction project. I don’t want to pull anybody’s leg — there’s not long-term employment there, or anything like that. But, there is a good six months for 75-100 people, ultimately.”

He added, “Typically 75-100 businesses will be involved, providing fuel oil, rental outhouses, food — that’s where the $3 million or so gets left in the community.”

But the prospect of 72 acres of twinkling photovoltaic arrays doesn’t leave some in the area with the warm-and-fuzzies.

Ned Stroud lives in the neighborhood across Rouse Road from the field, and said he and some of his neighbors aren’t happy with the project.

“You don’t want to look out from your front door and see an industrial facility,” Stroud said.

He likened it to a recent defeated proposal to place apartments near Lenoir Memorial Hospital, when people in opposition claimed the project was simply out of place in the area.

“There, they were trying to put housing in a medical park area, and here they’re trying to put industrial in a residential area,” Stroud said.

The land, however, is zoned in such a way as to allow a light industrial operation like a solar farm to locate there. SECDC would need approval from the City of Kinston, though, and that process has yet to occur.

“What exactly is the city’s role in this process, and how does it benefit, or not benefit, the City of Kinston residents and the City of Kinston customers?” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy asked. “I’m just not clear enough on that just yet.”

Murphy said he’s OK with solar power, but noted it comes at a higher cost than other methods. He’s also unsure of how the solar farm will integrate into the city’s power system, and what it means for city electricity customers.

If the plan comes to fruition, power would be sold to the ElectriCities group, of which Kinston is a member. By plugging in to the grid at the city, LeMond said, there would be a cost savings because of energy savings.

When electricity moves from the source to the outlet, energy is lost along the length of the transmission. The closer the source is to the outlet, less power is lost. LeMond said there would be economic benefits to City of Kinston rate-payers, but conceded the amount is hard to quantify.

Currently, SECDC plans to have the solar farm operational by Dec. 31. It’s meant to provide power for at least 20 years.

There will be a public hearing on the project on April 18 at 7 p.m. at the Kinston City Council chambers. LeMond also asked those with questions or concerns to contact him at 704-340-2544.

 

Wes Wolfecan be reached at 252-559-1075 orwes.wolfe@kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter @WolfeReports.

 

http://www.kinston.com/news/local/kinston-field-could-become-state-s-latest-solar-farm-1.122945?tc=cr

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KFP: City, county look toward 2013

Local leaders outline their priorities for New Year

With new faces in county government and the possibility of new faces in city government, local leaders are looking toward a busy 2013.

“I would say, in 2013 some of our priorities will be customer service, street resurfacing and continuing our redevelopment efforts,” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said Monday, in the waning hours of 2012.

The 2012 elections left the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners with a new chairman and vice chairwoman in Commissioners Reuben Davis and Jackie Brown, respectively.

They also have a new face in freshman Commissioner Craig Hill and the still-to-be-determined replacement for long-serving Commissioners’ Chairman George Graham — the local Democratic Party has nominated Roland Best for the seat, but the commissioners will have the final say.

“I know both of those folks are committed to serving the citizens, and I think they’ll fit in very nicely and I think we’ll work together very well,” Commissioner Linda Rouse Sutton said of Best and Hill.

She said the commissioners would “miss George (Graham)’s leadership,” but bringing in new people can bring in new ideas and new perspectives.

Sutton expected the commissioners’ main priorities in 2013 would be balancing the budget and not raising taxes.

“We’re determined to come out with a good balanced budget and not raise taxes, and hang on to as many services as possible, as closely as we can,” she said.

 

City goals

On the city of Kinston’s side, the mayor’s and two City Council seats will be up for election this year.

In 2013, city elections will be nonpartisan, meaning candidates will run without a political party label.

“I am looking forward to the wishes of the people being carried out in the form of nonpartisan elections,” said Murphy, who was a strong supporter of nonpartisan voting.

The mayor said he hoped the council would continue to work toward building up $500,000 in the budget for street repairs and resurfacing.

Murphy acknowledged it was a challenging goal to meet in times of lean budgets, “but continuing to make that progress toward that goal is important.”

The mayor also expected the city’s policy of “proactive policing” would continue due to the success of removing major criminals from the streets in 2012.

He also saw as a priority continuing to follow the relationship between Duke Energy, which completed its merger with Progress Energy in 2012, and public power communities in North Carolina.

Kinston is among the 32 member communities of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency, which owns power plants along with Duke Energy. The “generation assets” owned by the cities provide power to the member communities, which took on billions in debt 30 years ago to buy into those assets.

“Selling the generation assets, I think, should be part of our discussion in coordination with how to handle our debt load,” Murphy said.

 

David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 orDavid.Anderson@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.

 

BREAKOUT BOX:

 

County priorities in 2013:

– Balance the budget

– No tax increase

– Maintain services

Source: Commissioner Linda Rouse Sutton

 

City priorities in 2013:

– Improved customer service

– Street resurfacing

– Continued redevelopment

– ‘Proactive policing’

– Monitor relationship between Duke Energy and NCEMPA/ElectriCities

Source: Mayor B.J. Murphy

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Kinston Free Press Radio: Interview with Mayor BJ Murphy

By Bryan Hanks and Jon Dawson

Managing Editor Bryan Hanks and columnist Jon Dawson have a very Justin Beiber-ish conversation with Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, who also discusses his plans for the 2013 municipal elections and other news topics of the day, including the Will Barker arrest. Additionally, Hanks and Dawson sit down with Free Press Advertising Director Matt Holbrook to talk about the business side of the newspaper.

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