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Electric Cooperatives Contract with Duke Energy Carolinas for Wholesale Power Resources.

LENOIR, N.C. -- Three North Carolina electric membership cooperatives announced today that they have signed long-term agreements with Duke Energy Carolinas to begin supplying a portion of their wholesale power resource needs effective September 1, 2006. The three cooperatives serve approximately 165,000 North Carolina residential, commercial and industrial consumers.

The boards of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation, Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation and Rutherford Electric Membership Corporation recently approved the new wholesale power supply agreements. The individual cooperative boards approved the decision after a thorough joint wholesale power resource study that included input from one of the nation's leading power supply consultants and the energy industry's most respected legal advisors.

Through the agreements, Duke will provide power scheduling services and will serve an increasing amount of the cooperatives' wholesale power requirements through 2021. The agreements also include options to extend the contract for additional terms.

"Our vision for the agreements with Duke is to secure the most reliable and cost-effective power supply for our members for many years into the future," said the chief executives of the cooperatives: Doug Johnson, Blue Ridge Electric, R.G. Brecheisen, Piedmont EMC, and Joseph Joplin, Rutherford EMC.

"We're pleased we're going to be able to work with a North Carolina-based utility. Duke is well known in the industry for doing an excellent job in planning and building power generation resources to meet the growing needs of consumers," they noted, adding that pricing structure was also a critical driver in the decision.

"We evaluated numerous power suppliers and Duke offered the best combination of reliability and economics," the three executives said. One positive influence on the economics is the fact that the vast majority of Duke Energy's generation portfolio consists of highly efficient generation sources, such as nuclear and coal plants that are relatively less expensive to operate than other power plants.

"The agreement we've signed with Duke is good for our members and the communities we serve," they added. "It will provide for our members' electricity needs now and in the future. It is also expected to help stabilize costs in a volatile market like we've experienced in the past and may continue to see in the future."

The agreements are subject to approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is the federal commission that regulates Duke's wholesale transactions, and Rural Utilities Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, which is the cooperative's federal lending agency.

In addition to resources provided by Duke, the three cooperatives, which are independent members of North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, will receive a decreasing portion of their power resources from Catawba Nuclear Station and other sources through an existing long-term contract with NCEMC and from existing agreements with Morgan Stanley Capital Group through 2010.

Duke Energy is a diversified energy company with a portfolio of natural gas and electric businesses, both regulated and unregulated, and an affiliated real estate company. Duke Energy supplies, delivers and processes energy for customers in the Americas. Duke Energy's Carolinas operations deliver safe, reliable and competitively priced electricity to more than 2.2 million electric customers in a 22,000 square mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina. A diverse fuel mix of nuclear, coal-fired, hydroelectric and combustion-turbine generation provides approximately 28,000 megawatts of regulated generating capacity. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK.

The service area of the three cooperatives stretches from the Raleigh suburbs to the fringes of Charlotte, to the Blue Ridge Mountains bordering Virginia and the Piedmont adjoining South Carolina.

Blue Ridge Electric, Piedmont EMC and Rutherford EMC are part of the national Touchstone Energy alliance of 630 local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in 45 states that are providing high standards of service, energy and energy solutions to approximately 22 million consumers every day. Owned by those they serve, Touchstone Energy cooperatives operate as not-for-profit entities with a focus on integrity, accountability, innovation and a longstanding commitment to communities.

Blue Ridge Electric is located in Lenoir and serves almost 70,000 members in seven northwestern North Carolina counties. Piedmont EMC, with headquarters in Hillsborough, serves 30,000 members in seven counties in and adjacent to the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Triangle area. Rutherford EMC has headquarters in Forest City and serves nearly 65,000 members in 10 southwestern North Carolina counties.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:May 18, 2006
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