A Guide to North Carolina’s Electric Power Providers - Carolina Country

A Guide to North Carolina’s Electric Power Providers

An illustrated guide to the electric utilities that serve North Carolina.

A Guide to North Carolina’s Electric Power Providers

Note: North Carolina law designates service areas, and those areas are displayed as accurately as possible on this map. However, due to issues of scale, it is impossible to demonstrate with 100 percent accuracy the sizes of and interplay between them.

CAUTION: This article has been updated since it was first published in 2013. You can also reference the most current article from our May 2016 issue.

More than 100 separately organized electric power providers serve nearly 10 million people in North Carolina. Each covers a designated service area, and depending upon where you live, your electric service could come from a consumer-owned electric cooperative, an investor-owned utility, your city government, a university-owned utility or some other utility operating in the state.

History & Service Areas

In the early days of electrification, power was only available in larger communities where power companies could count on sufficient economic return. In the 1930s and ’40s, rural North Carolinians formed cooperatives that they could own and manage themselves to bring electricity to more sparsely populated regions.

After World War II, growth in North Carolina’s towns and cities began spilling over into these formerly rural areas. In 1965, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (an agency of state government formed in 1891) brought together investor-owned utilities and cooperatives in order to define and assign service areas.

This division of service areas still stands today, although with some modifications. In 2005, state legislation clarified the procedures by which cooperatives and municipal electric systems negotiate their respective service areas in relation to one another. 

In the summer of 2012, a merger of the investor-owned utilities Duke Energy and Progress Energy formed the largest regulated utility in the nation. Duke Energy (the official name of the merged corporations) serves some 7.4 million electric accounts in six states, including about 3.3 million in North Carolina.

Regulation

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over the licensing of new generating plants operated by all electric power providers and over the construction of new electric transmission facilities that are 161 kilovolts and above in size.

Investor-owned utilities operate within the jurisdiction of the commission, which oversees their rates and service practices. Cooperatives and municipal electric systems are regulated by their own local governing bodies.

Cooperatives pay all the taxes that investor-owned utilities pay, except income tax because cooperatives are not-for-profit businesses.

The North Carolina Rural Electrification Authority, whose five members are appointed by the governor, reviews the cooperatives’ federal loan applications and consumer comments.

Electric cooperatives

  • 26 independent, not-for-profit electric power providers owned and governed by their local members. Approximately 1 million North Carolina homes, farms and businesses (approximately 2.5 million people) served by the 26 cooperatives (also known as electric membership corporations or EMCs). Their service areas extend to 93 of the state’s 100 counties.
  • 5 co-ops based in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina serve border areas in North Carolina.
  • 25 co-ops belong to the North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, a generation and transmission cooperative that supplies its members with all or parts of their power needs. NCEMC’s power mix includes owned assets and purchased power with more than half of its portfolio coming from nuclear generation, including shared ownership of Catawba Nuclear Station in York County, S.C. In addition to this emissions-free nuclear source, NCEMC’s owned assets include two natural-gas peak generating plants (Anson and Richmond counties) and two diesel-powered generating facilities in Buxton and Ocracoke. NCEMC is also working with many member cooperatives to facilitate the construction and incorporation of community solar farms across the state. Additionally, NCEMC is one of the largest buyers of wholesale electric power in the nation.
  • All 26 N.C. co-ops belong to the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives, a trade association that performs services statewide, including publishing Carolina Country.

Investor-owned electric utilities

Duke Energy Carolinas

  • Headquartered in Charlotte.
  • Serves approximately 2.5 million accounts in central and western North Carolina and western South Carolina in a service area of approximately 24,000 square miles.

Duke Energy Progress

  • Wholly-owned subsidiary of Duke Energy.
  • Serves approximately 1.5 million accounts in central and eastern North Carolina, plus an area in and around Asheville and northeastern South Carolina. The total service area is approximately 32,000 square miles.

Dominion

  • Headquartered in Richmond, VA. Operates in northeastern North Carolina as Dominion North Carolina Power.
  • Serves approximately 120,000 North Carolina accounts.

Municipal & University-owned systems

  • More than 70 municipally-owned electric systems serve approximately 500,000 North Carolina households and businesses within some city and town limits.
  • Several of our state’s universities serve their campuses with electric facilities that they own and operate within the municipal electric system structure.
  • Most of the municipal and university-owned electric systems are members of ElectriCities, an umbrella non-profit organization that provides its member systems services such as training, member and government relations, communications and emergency assistance.
  • ElectriCities also provides management services to two municipal power agencies that supply wholesale electricity directly to 51 ElectriCities members and indirectly to another five members. These power agencies are North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number 1, which has partial interest in the Catawba Nuclear Station, and North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency.
  • A portion of the electric power for these municipally-owned systems is purchased wholesale from investor-owned utilities.

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Comments (13)

  • Electric utilities in North Carolina (including electric co-ops, investor-owned utilities like Duke Energy, and municipal utilities within some city and town limits) serve consumers based on predefined territories. These boundary lines can sometimes run down a street, so if you’re looking to move near one of the green-shaded areas on the map above, contact the local electric co-op with an address to find out if they serve it. Co-op membership can sometimes be a factor in picking the perfect home!

    Carolina Country | September 07, 2017 | reply

  • I live in Catawba county NC and am FORCED to use rutherford EMC and have been paying OVER $400 a month for power for the last 2 years or so. There is no other option for us and considering we do not use central heating or air its absurd! Our meter was changed a few months ago and for that month our bill dropped to around $200, after that month it went back over the $400 mark and we changed nothing. So please be careful where you are getting you electric if you can.

    Robert Johnson | February 21, 2019 | reply

  • Mr. Johnson,
    I would certainly be glad to assist you in determining what is causing your kWh consumption. This is a free service to all Rutherford EMC members. We are here to help and are always just a phone call away at 704-435-5401.
    Jonathan Pitman

    Rutherford EMC | February 27, 2019 | reply

  • I live in goldsboro i hate hate hate duke progress energy and im trying to get away from them i need another light company can somebody please help me ..

    Chanyquia Thompson | May 01, 2019 | reply

  • My husband and I are from NY and we just purchased land in Marshall/Weaverville. Who would be our electricity provider?

    Jennifer Nikitopoulos | May 24, 2019 | reply

    • Check with French Broad Electric www.frenchbroademc.com. They service much of that area of the state.

      Carolina Country | May 24, 2019 | reply

  • We are looking to buy property with just a street address and no postal service number. Three calls to different power companies all said it wasn’t them. How do we research to find out?

    Elaine | July 08, 2019 | reply

  • Looking for information on Patterson Springs Mutual Electric Co. of Patterson Springs, NC. This company was set up around 1929 to construct electric lines in rural areas to serve farms. I'm seeking any information on the company due to my great uncle's farm in the vicinity of Patterson Springs. Any information or help with this matter would be appreciated.

    David p carter | July 15, 2019 | reply

  • I am moving to Hampstead, NC early next month, and would like to start service on Sept. 3. I would appreciate finding out what electrical utility company services the Hampstead, NC area. Do I have a few choices?

    Anita Jacobs | August 05, 2019 | reply

  • Other than Duke Energy, who else provides service in Garner, NC??

    Alicia | October 12, 2019 | reply

  • I'm moving to 3803 Guardian Ave #1
    Morehead City N.C.28557 I would like to Kno which electric company serves my building and apartment and is any deposit to start service.thank you

    Jose Santiago | October 15, 2019 | reply

  • I am looking to see if there is another electric provider besides duke power that services my area in Yadkinville NC.

    Melissa Mclaurin | October 16, 2019 | reply

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