WNCT: Kinston Town Hall Meeting Addresses Electric Bills

by Kristen Hunter

KINSTON, N.C. – It’s been a long-standing concern for the city of Kinston. Electricity rates are at an all-time high.

While everyone has noticed an increase in their bill each month, few people actually understand the reasons behind it.

It all started in the 1970s.

“Kinston along with 31 other municipalities went into the electric business about 30 years ago. And as an entity the NCEMPA organization built some power plants which incurred debt,” said Mayor, BJ Murphy.

More than 2 billion dollars in debt to be exact. That debt is what’s causing energy bills in Kinston to be 39 percent higher than nearby competitors. Mayor Murphy, along with other city officials, decided to have a town hall meeting Tuesday night to help residents understand.

Officials say they’re working diligently to solve the problem but many citizens at the meeting said that simply wasn’t enough.

“Do you notice how few people there are here attending ? It’s less than the last meeting and every meeting it’s getting a little less. Because we’re not getting anything but hot air,” said one man.  

“The light bill is just too darn high. People retire to come back home and they gotta give half of their retirement for a darn light bill. It’s a darn shame” ,” said Kinston resident Doris Moore.

Many residents were visibly angry. Some even say the electricity problem is driving people away from the city.

“I know people that aren’t moving here. They’re moving to Goldsboro and Greenville instead of here because of the electric rates,” said Sandi Gaston.

While city officials say they value the public’s opinion, they still have a long road ahead of them.

NCEMPA won’t be out of debt until 2026.