North Carolina and South Carolina, both relatively low-cost power states, recently have made moves toward competition. In North Carolina, bills calling for the formation of a study commission to examine the introduction of electric supplier choice in that state were introduced in the House (H.B. 12) and Senate (S.B. 38). The intent to introduce choice has prompted the North Carolina Coalition for Customer Choice in Electricity to call on legislators to develop a report by April 1998, in time for a bill to be considered by the General Assembly that same year.
Pursuant to a market analysis performed by Brubaker & Associates, and figures gathered from public institutions, the coalition projects $275 million in annual savings for the state's household electric bills, $19 million for public schools and $6.9 million for the municipal governments of Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem.
In South Carolina, Rep. Doug Smith (R), has introduced the "Competitive Power Act," to allow residential customers to choose their electric providers by January 1998. Small commercial customers would be allowed to choose six month later, followed by industrial users on Jan. 1, 1999. The bill would protect the monopoly status of state-owned Santee-Cooper, and rural co-ops.
Adding encouragement, the advocacy group Citizens for Competitive Power has urged the state Legislature to pass a bill in the 1997 session to open the state's markets to competition.
"Going slow doesn't serve the public interest," said Robert McCormick, a Clemson economist and CCP member. "Conservatively, we estimate consumers will save 20 percent on their power bills. Savings may be as much as 40 percent."