Two North Carolina power companies have announced plans to build a pipeline, connecting to natural gas supplies in the Northeast.
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas say the pipeline will stretch 550 miles from eastern North Carolina to West Virginia. That state has a distribution center that gathers natural gas from its own drilling operations, as well as those in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The companies are partnering with Virginia-based Dominion Resources and Georgia-based AGL Resources to build the pipeline. They say it will cost as much as $5 billion over the next four years. Duke Energy spokesman Dave Scanzoni says the company does not anticipate a rate increase to offset costs.
"It's more likely to have a flat or decreasing impact on rates than they would have otherwise been," Scanzoni says. "Because now we'll have a dedicated supply of natural gas for our facilities without the market impacts' effect from other regions demanding the gas. Duke, Piedmont and the other companies will have a direct pipeline to the region that produces a lot of gas."
Scanzoni says demand for the resource has spiked in recent years.
"Duke Energy increasingly relies on natural gas to generate electricity after closing half of the company's 14 coal-fired power plants in North Carolina during the last three years. Simultaneously, Piedmont Natural Gas is growing customer demand and requires more supplies as well," he says.
Gov. Pat McCrory praised the plans, saying they will create 700 construction jobs and 50 permanent positions. Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas have a combined 50 percent stake in the project. The proposal is subject to approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.