Duke Energy has completed the sale of five small hydroelectric plants in the western Carolinas that it says have become too expensive to maintain and operate. It's taking a loss on the sale, which it eventually hopes to recover from customers.
Northbrook Energy is paying $4.75 million for the plants — three in the Nantahala area and two in the Broad Rivers Basin of North and South Carolina. Northbrook will sell power back to Duke under a five-year contract.
In its request for regulatory approval, Duke calculated that the deal would reduce costs for ratepayers.
The century-old plants generate a total of 18.7 megawatts of electricity — less than 1% of hydroelectric generation in Duke's western Carolinas region. They are:
- Bryson Hydro Station, Whittier, Swain County, N.C., opened 1925
- Franklin Hydro Station, Franklin, Macon County, N.C., 1925
- Mission Hydro Station, Murphy, Clay County, N.C., 1924
- Gaston Shoals Hydro Station, Blacksburg, Cherokee County, S.C., 1908
- Tuxedo Hydro Station, Flat Rock, Henderson County, N.C., 1920
Duke says it will lose $40 million on the sale, based on the plants' book value, but hopes to recover $27 million from customers with a future rate increase.
Duke did not say how many employees are affected by the sales. A spokeswoman said some would go to work for Northbrook, while others could find jobs elsewhere at Duke.
Northbrook Energy is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's a private, independent power producer with hydroelectric plants in 12 states.