The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 8, 2013

Board supports NCLM in energy rate battle

By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer

Friday, February 8, 2013 — If Duke Energy Carolinas gets its way, a 9.7 percent jump in its rates will soon go into effect for all of its customers. That doesn’t sit well with the town of New London.

In its regularly scheduled February meeting, the town board voted Tuesday to join the North Carolina League of Municipalities’ (NCLM) efforts to stop the rate increase. New London is a member of the NCLM and will be joining other cities and towns served through Duke Energy Carolinas, which also includes Pro-gress Energy, in an effort to fight the potential rate increases.

“We are not doing it just for town utilities. We are protecting our residents,” Mayor Calvin Gaddy said.

“I think that is a little excessive. Maybe they need some of that, but not all of that.”

Duke Energy Carolinas made the announcement Monday. If the rate increase goes through, it would be the third since 2009, according to information reported by The Charlotte Observer. Company leaders have said this would be the last rate increase for several years and that it would use the extra revenue to pay for more efficient power plants.

A 7.2 percent increase in power bills went into effect in 2012, a measure of about $11. If this increase goes into effect, customers could see an increase of $14 to their bill. The other increase was 7 percent in 2009.

The NCLM posted a bulletin titled “Joint Action Program for Electric Rate Cases” on its website and sent the towns under consideration a copy of it. The bulletin states “the League membership has requested that the League organize a joint action program through which the League would act as an intervening party in these cases on behalf of municipalities.” New London will give the NCLM $100 to help fight the issue.

If the measure doesn’t go forward, the town will get its money back.

Commissioner Dan Phillips made the motion and Commissioner Charlie Akin seconded it. The board passed the measure unanimously.

“The League, which we are a member of, they are pointing that out to us and asking us for support,” Gaddy said.

“We are going forward with it, and if you look at the disclaimer, it means we can get our $100 back. The bigger the town, the bigger the cost to get involved.”

Public hearing will take place before the N.C. Utilities Commission makes a ruling later this year.

The board also approved using the Stanly County Inspection Department for enforcing standards for issues such as minimum housing and other nuisance ordinances. New London had previously used an out-of-county organization for this kind of work, which was around twice the cost of what Stanly County will provide.

Under its current contract, the town must let the organization it currently uses know 30 days in advance of the switch. So it will likely go into effect next month.

In other business:

Mark Thompson put in a request that two trees near his property be addressed. One is dead and another is dying. Phillips and Gaddy saw them and agreed that at least the dead tree should be removed before it potentially falls onto the road. The board unanimously voted to get two quotes for the tree removal and stump grinding. One proposal would be for removing the two trees and another would be to remove four trees total, two that are close to the two trees in question.

Commissioner Bill Peak reported the Highland sewer generator was having problems again and is scheduled for repair. A tree fell at the Spring Street location and tore up a power line but has since been repaired.

Gaddy said he would have a meeting with Stanly County Health Director Dennis Joyner and his chief officer regarding the current animal control issue in the county. He will report to the board at a later date.

The Dixie Youth Base-ball League of New London would like to use the community center for its upcoming baseball registration. It’s one of three to four times the organization would like to use the facility this year. Parents would bring interested children to the site to register to play on scheduled days. The board voted to waive the $50 in-town rental fee but still take the money as a deposit in case there’s any damage to the facility. If not, the $50 would be returned to the group.