Dominion, Duke, PNG team up to build $5B natural gas pipeline -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dominion, Duke, PNG team up to build $5B natural gas pipeline

CHARLOTTE, NC (The Charlotte Observer) -

Duke Energy and Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas have picked Richmond-based Dominion to build and operate a 550-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia into Eastern North Carolina.

The pipeline, which will be the second major interstate line into the state, is expected to serve as a magnet for energy-hungry industries in the Interstate 95 corridor.

The sole existing major line cuts diagonally across the state, piping gas from the Gulf of Mexico to western and central North Carolina.

The new Atlantic Coast Pipeline will tap gas deposits on the East Coast, primarily the Utica and Marcellus shale basins in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Drilling those vast deposits have hugely enlarged U.S. reserves, dropping gas prices and tilting electric utilities like Duke toward gas, and away from coal, to fuel power plants.

The line is expected to cost $4.5 billion to $5 billion and go into service in late 2018. The project will need approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Duke and Piedmont announced in April they would solicit proposals for a new pipeline. They didn't name their preferred route but made clear it would connect to a source other than the Gulf.

Both will be partial owners, and customers, of the new line.

The line will have an initial capacity of 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day. Six utilities and related companies will buy most of its capacity: Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress, Virginia Power Services Energy, Piedmont, Virginia Natural Gas and PSNC Energy.

Dominion will own 45 percent of the pipeline, Duke 40 percent, Piedmont 10 percent and AGL Resources 5 percent.

Dominion is one of the nation's largest utilities. It produces up to 23,600 megawatts of electricity and operates 10,900 miles of natural gas pipelines. Dominion also has gas storage capacity of 947 billion cubic feet, one of the nation's largest such systems, serving customers in 10 states.

Duke has retired seven of its 14 North Carolina coal-burning power plants in the past three years, while opening five new gas-fired plants.

The pipeline will start in Harrison County, W. Va., at an existing gas transmission facility, then travel southeast through Virginia before entering North Carolina in Northampton County, northeast of Raleigh. It will end in at an existing Piedmont facility in Robeson County.

A separate, 70-mile extension will split off at the Virginia-North Carolina border, traveling east to the Hampton Roads area including Norfolk.

Dominion says its has notified landowners along a 400-foot wide study corridor. Preliminary surveys and route planning started in May and could be completed by December.

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