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Fayetteville PWC considering new rate options to boost conservation, growth

CEO presents strategic plan for residential, business electric rate structure

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Fayetteville’s public utility is considering changes to its rate structure to encourage conservation of electricity as well as economic development.

The Fayetteville Public Works Commission met Wednesday to discuss proposed electric rate options that would take effect after 2024.

“We conduct biennial reviews of our electric and our water system,” said Elaina Ball, the utility’s CEO and general manager, who presented staff recommendations on electric rates to the commission.

Over the past several months, Ball said, the utility’s staff has been reviewing electricity costs. On Wednesday, she presented the recommendations of that review to the commission, which include no change in electric rates at this time.

No action was taken by the board after the presentation, but a public hearing on the proposed new electric rates was set for July 13.

Ball said the proposed rate changes will be discussed further at upcoming PWC meetings.

“The changes that we’re recommending – the new additions and updates to our tariffs – are really in support of three of our key areas in our strategic plan,” she said. “No. 1 is conservation. You’ve heard me talk and the team talk – probably exhaustively – about the single-largest tool in our tool bag to help control electric costs. … So we have some changes specifically aligned to conservation and the ability to control demand.”

One proposed initiative would be a rate tied to economic development designed to attract new businesses and help existing ones expand. The rate would be offered beginning this September.

Other updated rates would address periods of higher and periods when PWC pays the highest amount for electricity from Duke Energy.

A solar buyback rate would be applicable to customers who install rooftop solar panels. This structure, which has required two meters in the past, would require only one in the future.

The solar panels could power a customer’s home or business, said Carolyn Justice-Hinson, spokeswoman for PWC.

“The provision in this rate is that customers can do this but the credits they receive can never exceed their basic facility charge,” Justice-Hinson said. “It does allow them to have a model that’s more popular for those who want solar and how they get credit for rooftop solar.”

The staff also is proposing a whole-home rate option intended to help customers who charge electric vehicles at home.

“There’s a concern that electric vehicles can have an impact on the electric grid,” Justice-Hinson explained. “If they charge (vehicles) during off hours, it will help. The basic facility charge would be about $10 higher than the regular electric customer’s.”

Customers paying the whole-home rate would use electricity mostly during what PWC is calling a super off-peak period – between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

During those hours, Justice-Hinson said, the cost is a little over 4 cents per kilowatt hour. The cost during peak hours is about 13.2 cents and during off-peak hours, 8.4 cents.

The whole-home rate would go into effect in February 2023.

CEO Ball said PWC customers have requested many of the changes.

“We’re really trying to make our tariffs more friendly and listen to our customers and make the changes accordingly,” she said.

Other proposed changes to the PWC rate structure include fee reductions for connections, reconnections and meter testing and provisions on cross connections and water shortages.

As recommended, the initial connection fee would drop from $22 to $20; the initial connection fee after hours would decrease from $65 to $20; the disconnection attempt fee would drop from $22 to $20; the meter testing fee for electricity would go from $50 to $25; and the meter testing fee for water would fall from $85 to $40.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

 

Fayetteville, electricity, PWC, utility