PWC’s electric system ensures that electric energy that is purchased from energy suppliers and 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). PWC has the distinction of being the only municipal utility in North Carolina to own and operate an electric generation plant. The Butler-Warner Generation Plant (BWGP) is named 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 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, 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 BWGP. 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 FY2023 electric service was provided to 83,493 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 499 MW, which occurred on February 20, 2015. The highest hourly peak demand ever recorded during the summer season on the PWC system was 480 MW, which occurred on August 9, 2007. For comparison, the hourly peak demand recorded during FY2023 was 428 MW, which occurred on July 28, 2022.
Fayetteville Electric Service History
The City of Fayetteville has furnished electricity to its citizens since 1900. Fayetteville, like many other North Carolina cities 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 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, N.C. Fayetteville then purchased its electric power from them 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 principal 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 8 peak-shaving gas turbine generators capable of producing 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. In 1988, 6 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.
PWC has constantly expanded facilities 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 more than 600,000 kW. PWC also has 1 deactivated substation that is used for training purposes. PWC has 3 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.
PWC has a 1 MW solar farm that has provided renewable energy since 2019. PWC will be expanding its solar generation, with three additional farms planned. PWC also has 2 MW of battery storage at BWGP. Batteries are deployed during peak usage to reduce demand on the electrical system and ultimately lower PWC power supply costs.
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.
By the end of 2020 all three Points-of-Delivery were completed with the replacement of the 230 kV power circuit breakers and upgrading of all the protective relays, automation, and control systems. By the end of FY2023, 14 substations under this program have been completed with another two slated for completion in FY2024. Over the last 14 years, 15 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 5-year budget plan.
In 2014, PWC began replacing conventional street lighting with light emitting diode (LED) street lighting. We currently have 25,011 street lights and have replaced 100% of them. In 2018, PWC began its area light replacement program. We currently have 12,841 area lights. To date, we have replaced 100% of them. Thoroughfare lighting is also being changed to LED and brought up to the national IES lighting standards. To date, this project is 97% complete with minor additions continuing.
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 120 circuit miles of 69 kV lines, and serves a total of over 80,000 electric customers, including 37 industrial customers, among which is the state’s largest manufacturing plant, Goodyear Tire & Rubber.
American Public Power Association’s E.F. Scattergood System Achievement Award
American Public Power Association Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Diamond Level
American Public Power Association Certificate of Excellence in Reliability
American Public Power Association Smart Energy Provider (SEP) Award
American Public Power Association Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Development (DEED) Energy Innovator Award