Electric Service

PWC’s electric system ensures that electric energy that is purchased from energy suppliers, and that which is generated at PWC’s own generation plant, is safely and efficiently delivered to its customers at competitive rates.  PWC currently purchases electricity from Duke Energy Progress (DEP) and from the Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA).  In addition, PWC has the distinction of being the only municipal utility in North Carolina to own and operate an electric generation plant.  This plant is known as the Butler-Warner Generation Plant (BWGP), in honor of Robert H. Butler and James R. Warner, former chairmen of the Commission.

In July 2012, PWC became a full requirements customer of Progress Energy (now DEP) as part of a new 20-year power supply agreement signed in June 2009.  PWC pays a fixed annual capacity and energy charge with a formula-based annual true-up based on DEP’s system average costs. In a separate agreement, the BWGP is dispatched by DEP to meet the combined needs of PWC and DEP customers.  PWC will continue to operate and maintain the plant while DEP will reimburse PWC for certain operating costs and pay a fee based on plant performance.  This provides PWC an additional source of revenue which can be used to offset the effect of power cost increases.

In November 2019, PWC and DEP amended the contract, with the modifications expected to save PWC $313 million (net present value savings) compared to the current agreement, including $33 million savings prior to 2024 when the terms of the current agreement end.  The terms of the amended agreement run through 2042 and PWC has the option to end the contract in 2032 with a three-year notice.  In a separate agreement, DEP agreed to extend its contract to lease PWC’s Butler-Warner Generation Plant.  New terms extend the contract through June 2024 for an additional $5 million in PWC revenue.  PWC may be able to achieve additional savings beyond 2024 if operational requirements are met.

PWC provides electric service to approximately 60% of the Fayetteville/Cumberland County area. During FY2017, electric service was provided to nearly 82,100 customers.  PWC purchased or generated over 2 billion kWh of electricity to meet the ever-increasing demand for service.  The highest hourly peak demand ever recorded on the PWC system was 492.6 MW, which occurred on February 20, 2015.  The highest hourly peak demand ever recorded during the summer season on the PWC system was 476.6 MW, which occurred on August 9, 2007.  For comparison, the hourly peak demand recorded during the winter season was 453.0 MW, which occurred on January 9, 2017.


Fayetteville Electric Service History

The City of Fayetteville has furnished electricity to its citizens since 1900. Fayetteville, like many other cities in North Carolina and in the nation, did not organize an electric utility as a profit-making public enterprise; it did so because that was the only way the citizens could enjoy the benefits of electricity.

The first electric plant of any kind in Fayetteville was installed by the Phoenix Cotton Mill on Ann Street. This plant was driven by water power from Cross Creek, and its output operated the mill and some
commercial lighting.

In 1900, the city constructed a steam-driven plant on a site in the 500 block of Russell Street, and immediately began to enlarge the electric distribution system. At that time, the city had a population of less than 5,000 people. The City of Fayetteville operated this electric plant for about five years.

Just prior to 1905, the plant became inadequate to supply the City’s total electric needs, and was leased to Fayetteville Traction and Power Company. This company constructed a transmission line into Fayetteville from its hydroelectric plant in Manchester, North Carolina. Fayetteville then purchased its electric power from this company and continued to operate its electric distribution system. This arrangement continued until 1914, when Fayetteville Traction and Power Company failed.

At this time, all the generating equipment was overloaded. The Commission signed a contract with Henry T. Dechert of Philadelphia, Trustee for the Fayetteville Traction and Power Company, for the purchase of power. Mr. Dechert agreed to increase the generation capacity at Manchester and at Fayetteville.

Before this was accomplished, the Commission canceled the contract with Mr. Dechert and contracted with Carolina Power & Light Company (now DEP) for the purchase of electric power. Since that time, DEP has remained the principle source of power for Fayetteville, although the City has continued to own and operate its own distribution system through the years.

Construction of the BWGP began in the early 1970’s and has continued to evolve in response to increasing customer needs.  Between 1976 and 1980, PWC installed eight peak-shaving gas turbine generators capable of producing 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. In 1988, six of these units were converted to a combined-cycle steam mode which increased generating capacity by approximately 65 MW, for a total of 265 MW of generating capacity.

PWC has constantly expanded facilities in order to keep pace with the accelerated growth of its service area which includes Fayetteville and a sizable area of Cumberland County.  Expansion of the electrical system has been significant – from a 20,000 kW system (two substations) in 1960, to a 410,000 kW load (27 substations) in 1995. Currently PWC has 33 substations that are designed to handle a system load in excess of 600,000 kW.  PWC also has 1 deactivated substation that is used for training purposes. PWC has three points of delivery (POD) of bulk electric power from DEP: POD #1 (Owen Drive)-began operation in 1969; POD #2 (rural area east of the Cape Fear River)-began operation in 1973, and POD #3 (Cliffdale Road)-began operation in 1994.

Beginning in 2009, PWC began a program to rebuild or upgrade all of its existing substations, targeting completion of one or two substations per year.  These substations are designed as Smart Substations, equipped with state-of-the-art microprocessor-based protective relays, automation, and controls.

Additionally, in 2012 PWC completed the replacement of a 230 kV power circuit breaker and all the protective relays, automation, and control system upgrade at POD #1.  By the end of FY19, PWC completed the replacement and Smart Substation upgrade of the protective relaying and control equipment at POD #2.  In addition, by the end of FY19, 11 substations under this program have been completed with another one slated for completion in early 2020.  During FY20, POD #3 will receive an upgrade of all the protective relaying, automation, and control systems.  Nine substations have had new state-of-the art main power transformers installed.  Design work on additional upgrades, rebuilds and new facilities are underway and consistent with PWC’s five year budget plan.

In 2014, PWC began a program to replace it conventional street lights with light emitting diode (LED) street lights.  We currently have 23,911 street lights in operation on our system.  To date, we have replaced 18,728 of these fixtures.   In 2018, PWC began its area light replacement program.  We currently have 12,609 area lights on our system.  During the next two years, PWC plans on replacing its conventional lights with LED fixtures.   The estimated savings from both programs since inception is $444,395.

Power is received from DEP at 230,000 volts and transformed to 66,000 volts.  Transmission of electric power to substations is accomplished by more than 121 circuit miles of 69 kV lines, and serves a total of over 80,000 electric customers, including 28 industrial customers, among which is the state’s largest manufacturing plant, Goodyear Tire & Rubber (formerly Kelly Springfield Tire Company).