Duke Energy agrees to buy $1.2 billion in ElectriCities generating capacity, reducing debt

Duke Energy Progress has agreed to purchase the generating capacity of ElectriCities in a $1.2 billion deal expected to translate into lower power bills for thousands of eastern North Carolina residents.

Duke announced its deal Monday with the North Carolina Municipal Power Agency, which includes 32 towns in the eastern part of the state. Businesses and residents in those communities have long been paying hundreds of dollars more a year for electricity to help service massive debt owed by ElectriCities, which decades ago bought shares in the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant near Raleigh and three other facilities.

By selling its shares of the plants back to Duke, ElectriCities can eliminate 70 percent of its $1.9 billion in outstanding debt. ElectriCities executives say those savings will be passed on to customers.