- In 1965, the North Carolina legislature enacted the Territorial Act. This Act did not include the cities and as a result, the NC Municipally Owned Electric Systems Association was formed to represent the cities' interest. This organization later changed its name to ElectriCities of NC. The City of Shelby joined July 29, 1966.
The 1965 Electric Act passed by the NC General Assembly governs retail electric service in North Carolina. There are three types of retail electric providers in the state: (i) municipalities, (ii) investor-owned companies, and (iii) electric membership corporations. Within the city limits, the City of Shelby is the primary retail electric supplier and will, in most cases, be the electric supplier for new facilities. In situations where another electric provider has existing electric lines inside the city limits, the 1965 Electric Act created a 300-foot 'corridor' around those secondary electric provider's lines. In these situations, a customer establishing electric service for a new facility may have a choice of electric suppliers within the city limits depending upon the proximity of their new facility to the secondary electric provider's lines. Customers should contact the City of Shelby to review their specific situation for determination of electric service rights. Existing customers will continue to be served by their current provider.
The City of Shelby may also provide electric service outside the city limits to serve new facilities within reasonable limitations, to provide electric service to city-owned facilities, or expand electric lines prior to annexation to provide city services when annexation becomes effective. The City of Shelby will assist customers in establishing electric service for a new facility.
ElectriCities provides customer service and safety training, emergency and technical assistance, communications, government affairs and legal services. ElectriCities also provides management services to the state's two municipal Power Agencies, North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number 1 (NCMPA1) and North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA).
With the strength of its membership, ElectriCities is able to provide consolidated technical, administrative, and management services to its members. By using services offered at group rates, member cities are able to maintain their electric systems and equipment better. Services including aerial device (bucket truck) testing, infrared scanning and substation maintenance costs are significantly less through ElectriCities' contracts than if the cities contracted the services themselves, demonstrating collective strength.
ElectriCities schools and workshops keep utility personnel up-to-date on safely handling hazardous substances, customer service, utility credit and collections, load conservation marketing and other aspects of the business. Comparable schools elsewhere cost two to three times more. Training programs encourage safe work habits and reduce potential liability. Lineman training and municipal transformer schools teach member city employees' systematic safety measures to use in their daily duties. Retail rate assistance helps municipalities establish effective rate schedules.
Communications, legislative and legal services present a unified message for Public Power across the state.
Through the Emergency Assistance program, cities help each other in times of disaster. For the electricity industry, the forces of Mother Nature present regular challenges and can be particularly hard in North Carolina. Despite the direct hits, municipal crews continue to beat the averages, restoring power to customers, while significant numbers of other utility customers remain in the dark.
- ElectriCities is a not-for-profit government service organization financed through membership fees and dues, as well as through tuition from training programs and workshops. In addition, ElectriCities can receive funding from the Power Agency(s) (if approved by the Board of Commissioners) for certain projects and can get revenue from energy services partners. With a re-organization several years ago, a new status was created to allow for associate members, which include the South Carolina and Virginia cities and university systems.
- The City of Shelby's dues to ElectriCities for 2015 was $17,050.
ElectriCities of North Carolina is a not-for-profit government service organization representing cities, towns and universities that own electric distribution systems. Today, ElectriCities represents members in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Formed in 1965 to protect the interests of Public Power customers and to provide a unified voice to speak out in the North Carolina legislature, ElectriCities continues today to serve Public Power communities.
ElectriCities provides customer service and safety training, emergency and technical assistance, communications, government affairs and legal services. Through consolidation of these services, members save their customers the expense of administering these functions locally. ElectriCities also provides management services to the state's two municipal Power Agencies, North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number 1 (NCMPA1) and North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA). Fifty-one of its members receive their electricity from their participation in one of these two agencies. Other members purchase power from investor-owned utilities such as Duke Power and Progress Energy Carolinas or from other power suppliers like the cooperatives. The average ElectriCities member has more than 75 years of experience operating an electric distribution system. Many member cities have been in the electric business for 100 years or more.
During the energy crisis of the mid-70s, the investor-owned utilities feared shortages and were unable to guarantee future power supply. The state needed additional power plants, but the investor-owned utilities were having difficulty raising the necessary capital for construction. After considering concerns about reliability, cost, and long-term supply of electricity, the North Carolina Legislature enacted legislation to enable cities to join together to form Municipal Power Agencies, paving the way for cities to enter the generation business. Fifty-one cities in North Carolina chose to form two Municipal Power Agencies and issued electric revenue bonds. Combined, the Power Agencies own portions of five nuclear and two coal-fired plants totaling more than 1450 megawatts of generation capacity.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, electricity was slowly making its way to North Carolina's cities and towns. Often, electricity was brought into the area by the city and used primarily to power streetlights to brighten the downtown after dark. Power was generated by coal-fired generators and was produced only during the evening and night hours. Originally, the cities built small generators in their hometowns. In some cases, the municipalities set up their own systems when other power suppliers refused to serve these communities.
As demand for lighting grew, electricity was brought into citizens' homes. Soon after, new appliances such as the sewing machine, clothes washer, and refrigerator were invented to simplify daily chores. At the same time, industry was becoming modernized, and industrial demand for electricity grew accordingly. Cities began to see their electric load grow.
What started as a novelty was becoming a full-fledged utility service. During the early 1900s, North Carolina cities were growing quickly. Areas that were little more than a crossroads developed into towns with citizens who needed electric service. North Carolina's investor-owned utilities were sometimes unwilling to invest in infrastructure to run power lines to outlying areas, so North Carolina's cities and towns stepped in and began to invest in electric transmission to serve North Carolina citizens.
Today, there are over 70 public power communities across the state, serving 500,000 North Carolinians. To them, owning their own power system means local control; fast, neighborly service; and economic benefits for their residents.
North Carolina's public power communities continue to be strong vibrant areas in which to work and live. Public power customers benefit from utility policy established by officials who live and work where they do. Local control benefits customers by allowing electric revenue to stay in the community, enabling public power cities to grow and prosper.
- There is no legal arrangement between ElectriCities and the City of Shelby. ElectriCities is a Joint Municipal Assistance Agency and membership is established annually by payment of dues.
Revenues from electricity sales in Public Power communities go toward operating the electric system, providing better community services, and improving the quality of life for residents. A municipally owned utility does not have to pay a dividend to shareholders. In a Public Power community, 'stockholders' are all those who benefit from municipal services ' the citizens of the community.
Customers have a voice in the activities of their electric systems. Since each municipality sets its own policies, customers can speak out on electric power issues at their city and town council meetings. Public Power is the public's business.
In 1965, the battle for territory between private utilities (investor-owned utilities), electric cooperatives, and the cities intensified statewide. The result was the 1965 Electric Act, promising to resolve many of the disputes between the investor-owned utilities and co-ops. The 1965 Act, however, created new difficulties for municipal systems, which were left out of the legislation by restricting their right to serve customers in areas annexed in the future.
ElectriCities was organized to provide the municipal systems a unified voice to speak out in the legislature against the bill. The group was unable to stop passage of the bill but decided to form a permanent alliance to help Public Power become a stronger voice for its customers statewide. In 1983, at the request of the cities, the Legislature expanded this voluntary association with the passage of Chapter 159B of the North Carolina General Statutes allowing North Carolina's "electric cities" to form a joint municipal assistance agency to provide aid and assistance to municipalities in the construction, ownership, maintenance, expansion, and operation of their electric systems.
Since then, ElectriCities has been a powerful force for Public Power in North Carolina and now has grown to reach cities in Virginia and South Carolina. Based in Raleigh, ElectriCities' staff members watch legislative issues closely to ensure its members have a voice in any legislation that may affect electricity issues. ElectriCities members are currently preparing for future competition. They want to make sure Public Power helps shape any legislation that could restructure the electric utility industry.