- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Federal regulators have approved plans for Duke Energy Progress to buy power plant ownership from 32 eastern North Carolina towns.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the plan Tuesday.

Multiple media outlets reported the $1.2 billion purchase of generating capacity from the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency needs state approval.

The deal is expected to reduce power bills in the towns. Residents there have paid an average of up to $600 more a year for electricity than Duke Energy Progress customers nearby.

Town officials said their inflated electricity bills made it hard to recruit industries and businesses.

The towns had invested in power plants as a hedge against unpredictable energy costs. That backfired when nuclear costs skyrocketed after the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

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