Local Towns Vary On How To Handle April 1st Wholesale Power Rate Increase

The North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA), commonly known as ElectriCities, the agency that represents 32 cities and town in eastern North Carolina that own and operate their electric systems, has announced plans for a 1.2 percent wholesale electric rate increase effective April 1st, 2019.  The NCEMPA Board of Directors adopted the rate increase on January 25th.

4 of the 32 towns are in Johnston County. Benson, Clayton, Smithfield and Selma  each have the option to absorb the rate increase or pass it along to power customers.


Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp says the Benson Town Board will discuss the wholesale power increase during their March regular meeting and budget meeting. No decision has been announced on how Benson will handle the 1.2% wholesale rate increase.

The Clayton Town Council voted this week not to raise electric rates.  Officials said proactive planning helped the town anticipate the increase thanks to strong analysis and research provided by a recent electric rate study. The consultant’s study allowed the Town to project and plan accordingly for this increase. So, while the Town of Clayton will be now have to pay 1.2% more to buy electricity, thanks to the diligence of the recent electric rate study, Town of Clayton residents and customers will not be seeing this increase passed on into their bills.

Unrelated to this wholesale rate increase, when the Clayton town budget was adopted last July, the Council did vote to approve a $2.00 increase to take effect May 2019 to help pay for upgrades to the town’s electric metering systems.

In Smithfield, Town Manager Mike Scott has recommended to the Council the town absorb the increase using rate stabilization funds, through the end of the fiscal year. “We will evaluate this as we work through the budget to ascertain if fees need to be adjusted for FY 2019-20,” Scott said in an email. “You may recall that the Council created a rate stabilization fund for just this purpose, so electric rate changes would not be so reactive to the market.”

“We have worked extremely hard since I have been on the council to get these rates lower, and I have worked hard with the council to bring on board a rate stabilization fund to absorb increase we knew was coming,” stated Mayor Pro Tem Travis Scott. “Our Utility Fund is very healthy and I look forward to keeping our rates very competitive”.

Mayor Cheryl Oliver said an electric rate study is currently being conducted in the Town of Selma and the results will be announced during their March monthly meeting.  “Council agreed to wait for the Rate Study Results before making a decision on our electric rates,” Mayor Oliver told WTSB.

While each town is charged the same wholesale rate to purchase electricity, each municipality charges a different rate to their customers.  Of the four towns, Smithfield is the cheapest.

Based on an average home using 1,000 kWh per month, Smithfield customers currently pay $104.16 per month. The rate in Selma is $120.00, Clayton $134.42 and Benson $134.70.  A Duke Energy customer would pay $121.74.

The total cost includes various monthly base rates charged by towns, ranging from a low of $8.50 in Selma, $11.00 in Smithfield, $14.75 in Clayton, $15.42 by Duke and a local high of $25.00 in Benson.The rate comparison was conducted on Feb. 15, 2019.