Piedmont Natural Gas

Duke Energy / Flickr Creative Commons

Last year Duke Energy acquired Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion. The purchase is a marker of the energy industry’s shift toward using natural gas to produce electricity. Supporters of natural gas say it is cheaper and burns cleaner than coal. But critics argue that methane leaks during storage and transportation, which can accelerate global warming.

Duke Energy
Duke Energy

Duke Energy has announced it will buy Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion dollars in cash.

Piedmont Natural Gas serves customers in almost every area of the state, outside the Triangle. Both companies are headquartered in Charlotte.

“This transaction consolidates our critical natural gas and power infrastructure into one company to greatly enhance customer service, safety, integrity, and reliability,” said Piedmont CEO Tom Skaines in a conference call.

Gasoline prices at the Carrboro Food Mart gas station in April 2013
Laura Candler

Gasoline and natural gas have hit record-low prices in the last few months. It was hailed as overwhelmingly good news for consumers and the economy.

But the price you pay at the pump may not be the real cost.

“So the real cost of that gallon of gas is the price you pay at the pump plus about four dollars,” says Drew Shindell, a professor of climate change at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Shindell wrote a paper that calculates the “social cost” of energy, or the total cost to society.

A picture of segments of pipeline.
Harald Hoyer / Creative Commons

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.