Reliable and Efficient Utilities
THE ASSURANCE OF RELIABLE, efficient and reasonably priced utility services to the customers of a region is a hallmark of well-planned economic growth and development. Charlotte area utility providers have earned national reputations for superior management, sophisticated delivery services and exceptional long-range planning. Responsiveness to customer needs is a priority in the delivery of electricity, natural gas, water and wastewater treatment.
Utility service regulation in North Carolina is managed by two principal agencies. The N.C. State Utilities Commission regulates electric, natural gas, water and waste water treatment rates, as well as telephone rates and service. The N.C. Division of Environmental Management, in cooperation with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Region IV, is responsible for the regulation of water and wastewater treatment services.
Residential Utility Cost Index
Comparison cities: top 40 metro markets
Second quarter 2012
||San Antonio, TX
||Las Vegas, NV
||San Diego, CA
||San Francisco, CA
|Source: U.S. Census Bureau; ACCRA Cost of Living Index, Second Quarter 2012
Note: Milwaukee did not respond. Charlotte is tied for 17th at 98.1.
|* More cities can be found on the printed brochure.
Charlotte-based Duke Energy, a diversified multinational energy company, manages a dynamic portfolio of natural gas and electric supply, delivery and trading business meeting the needs of customers throughout North America and in key markets around the world.
Duke Energy celebrated its 105th anniversary in 2009. Not only has the company been around for over a century, but Duke Energy completed its merger with Progress Energy in July 2012 making it the nation’s largest electric utility. It now provides safe, reliable and competitively priced energy to more than seven million residential, commercial and industrial customers in the U.S. Much of the business and industry located in the Carolinas has been attracted to this region because of Duke Energy’s earned reputation as a dependable source of efficiently priced power.
Duke Energy’s generating system is a diverse mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil and renewable resources. Its coal-fired power plants, which produce about half of the utility’s electricity, consistently rank among the most efficient in the nation, and the company’s nuclear plants consistently set records for efficiency and reliability.
With more than 250,200 miles of distribution lines (overhead and underground), Duke Energy works hard to ensure dependable power. Because of this, it can claim a service availability of 99.97 percent. According to the Southeastern Electric Exchange’s (SEEE) Distribution Reliability Report, Duke Energy’s system average interruption frequency Index (SAIF) ranks high among other utility companies in low frequency of outages.
According to the Edison Electric Institute’s Typical Bills Report for winter 2012, Duke Energy Carolinas’ average industrial bill is 34 percent below the national average. Duke Energy Carolinas’ average industrial price is 5.7 cents/kWh, compared to the national average of 6.4 cents/kWh. The average residential price is 9.4 cents/kWh compared to the national average of about 12 cents/kWh.
As an economic development incentive, the company offers two billing credits:
1. The Economic Development rider offers a billing credit to certain users that meet specific criteria. The first year credit is 20 percent declining by five percent each year for the next four years. To qualify for this credit, the customer must sign a new 10-year contract with Duke Energy and add 1,000 kW of new load at a single delivery point on the Duke Energy system accompanied by either:
- 75 new full time employees per 1000 kW of load, or
- $400,000 in capital investments per 1000 kW of new load, and a net increase in full time employees
2. The Economic Redevelopment rider offers a 50 percent billing credit for one year to qualifying customers who become tenants of currently vacant commercial and industrial buildings. To qualify for this credit the customer must sign a five-year contract with Duke Energy and add a minimum of 500 kW of new load on the Duke Energy system accompanied by either:
- 35 new full time employees per 500 kW of load, or
- $200,000 in capital investments per 500 kW of new load, and a net increase in full time employees
Average Electric Bills
Typical commercial and industrial bills based
on kW demand and kWh per month
||Industrial Service ($/month)
||40 kW/ 15,000 kWh
||500kW/ 180,000 kWh
||75kW/ 30,000 kWh
||1,000 kW/ 400,000 kWh
|El Paso, TX
| Source: Edison Electric Institute, Typical Bills winter 2012
Over 30 companies offer telecommunications services in Charlotte, including major national and regional providers. Charlotte telecommunications offerings are diverse and up-to-date with the newest technology trends. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of maintained fiber optic cable within the region, a wealth of wireless providers, and other emerging telecommunications technologies in the Charlotte area.
A full array of broadband data solutions is available for large, medium and small businesses is available. The residential market has access to several varieties of high-speed internet access, advanced voice features and other innovative data services.
Key Emerging Technologies
Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP), the telecommunications technology that provides the transmission of telephone calls over an Internet connection, is beginning to penetrate local telecommunications markets nationally and in Mecklenburg County. VoIP technology currently requires a computer and a broadband connection. For customers who already have this infrastructure in place, the incremental costs of VoIP service are relatively low. Nationally, the current major VoIP providers are Vonage, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable.
Within the next few years, plugging into a wall socket may be all that is required to get an internet connection. That is the hope of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, of which Charlotte’s Duke Energy is a member. While many cities and their utilities are monitoring the technology and waiting for it to mature, it appears to be a very plausible solution for rural areas or those who are not served by cable or DSL. Duke Energy is also currently spearheading the testing of high speed broadband internet over power lines (BPL) in Charlotte.
Abundant Water and Waste Treatment
Charlotte’s water supply originates in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Clear, cold, mountain water feeds through streams and tributaries into the Catawba River where a series of dams, built to generate hydroelectric power, creates a series of lakes. Among these impoundments is Mountain Island Lake, the primary source of Charlotte’s water supply. Even on days of highest demand, Charlotte will draw less than three percent of the lake’s content, which is replenished from upstream. Charlotte has an ample supply of high-quality source water for the foreseeable future.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities provides water and wastewater treatment service to Mecklenburg County and its incorporated cities. The utility presently maintains more than 253,000 commercial and residential water connections.
The water and sewer system is growing at an annual rate of three to five percent and currently includes three water treatment plants, 4,206 miles of water mains, 4,180 miles of wastewater collection mains and five wastewater treatment plants. System operation is paid for by user charges, which includes debt service. Expansion is financed by the sale of revenue bonds.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities has an aggressive five-year capital program to ensure future water and wastewater treatment capacity. Despite rapid growth in this region, the utility’s water and sewer rates continue to be very competitive in the Southeast and nationwide.
Available Natural Gas
Piedmont Natural Gas is an energy services company primarily engaged in the distribution of natural gas to more than one million residential, commercial and industrial utility customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, including 53,000 customers served by municipalities that are wholesale customers. The Charlotte-based company is the second-largest natural gas utility in the Southeast. Its subsidiaries are invested in joint venture, energy-related businesses, including unregulated retail natural gas marketing, interstate natural gas storage and intrastate natural gas transportation.
Additional utility suppliers in the Charlotte area include investor-owned water and wastewater companies, telecommunications and teleconferencing companies. Over 30 cellular and mobile telephone companies provide state-of-the-art service to their customers and anyone looking for a specific television channel is sure to find it on one of Charlotte’s six cable and satellite television service providers. Internet service is growing exponentially, 109 companies in Charlotte offer a wide variety of services and expertise.
526 South Church Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Piedmont Natural Gas
4720 Piedmont Row Drive
Charlotte, NC 28217