CARRBORO – Mayor Mark Chilton says Duke Energy’s flat-rate fees are discouraging the town from installing high efficiency street lights in some areas of Carrboro.

“We pay Duke Power for our electrical bills for our street lights in Carrboro,” Chilton says. “The way that those are handled is by estimation of the amount of electricity used rather than metered, and Duke has a flat policy of charging a certain rate for street lights.”

Earlier this year, the Town intervened in the Duke Energy Carolinas rate case before the State Utilities Commission, which was taken successfully to the N.C. Supreme Court by Attorney General Roy Cooper. In August, Cooper filed again with the Utilities Commission to oppose the latest rate-hike request by Duke Energy.

Chilton and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen hosted a presentation by Piedmont Electric, which provides electric service to parts of Carrboro, about the possibility of using LED lights in Anderson Park, replacing the less efficient mercury vapor (MV) and high pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures.

“Here Piedmont Electric is being flexible and is working with us and is going to reward us with lower bills if we install these LED lights, using less electricity, where Duke Power is not offering us any other similar sort of deal,” Chilton says.

Chilton says that it is not advantageous for the Town to use energy-saving, cost-effective lights in Duke Energy’s territory.

“If we invest in LED technology, we will be using a lot less power. Duke’s rate structure needs to recognize that,” Chilton says. “They need to give us a break, in other words to charge a different rate for those of us who are using the super high efficiency LED lights.”

Piedmont Electric says it would replace some of the less efficient fixtures at no additional cost until a preliminary evaluation has been completed.

Duke Energy could not be reach for comment.