Local News

N.C. Growth Creates Need For More Transmission Lines

Posted August 26, 2003

— North Carolina dodged the darkness from the recent power outages that affected the Northeast, but there is another threat to the state's power grid -- growth.

"Last year alone, we added 26,000 customers here in the Carolinas," said Julie Hans, of Progress Energy.

"Duke Power has over 2 million customers and every year, we add about 50,000 new customers," said Tom Williams, of Duke Power.

Officials say adding new customers without overburdening the power grid can be expensive. Both Progress Energy and Duke Power plan to spend $200 million each over the next two years on transmission lines.

Transmission lines come into distribution substations. Those substations lower the voltage, so they can send power to your neighborhood. The State Utilities Commission, which regulates the power companies, said there is a need for more transmission lines, but its members have not said whether consumers will have to pay for those new lines.

"Last decade or so, there have been lesser expenditures for transmission facilities, distribution facilities, generation facilities and there was no rate increase because of that. That's not to say you'll never have a rate increase," said Sam Ervin, of the State Utilities Commission.

The General Assembly recently put a freeze on utility rates, but that may not prevent electric companies from asking for a rate hike.

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