Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas to build major natural gas pipeline

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Follow@EnergyDigital The March issue of Energy Digital magazine is live Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas this week are soliciting proposals to buil...

The March issue of Energy Digital magazine is live

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas this week are soliciting proposals to build and operate a second major wholesale natural gas pipeline into North Carolina to meet growing demand for the fuel in the Carolinas and possibly surrounding states.

Duke Energy's increasing reliance on natural gas to generate electricity, coupled with Piedmont's growing customer demand, warrant investment in a new pipeline that would bolster reliability and diversity of natural gas supplies, the two companies state in their solicitation.

Specifically, the two companies seek an initial natural gas pipeline capacity of as much as 900 million cubic feet per day, with a target in-service date of late 2018. The companies expect to select a proposal by late 2014. Currently, North Carolina is served primarily by a single major wholesale interstate natural gas pipeline that runs through the state.

In addition, the construction of numerous natural gas-fired power plants nationwide in the wake of coal-fired power plant closures – due to environmental regulations and low natural gas prices – has significantly increased demand for natural gas.

Duke Energy has opened five new, cleaner-burning natural gas-fired power plants in North Carolina since 2011 to replace older, less efficient coal-fired power plants. Piedmont pipelines supply natural gas to all five plants.

Duke Energy also has proposed a new natural gas-fired power plant in South Carolina.

A new pipeline would expand Duke Energy's and Piedmont's "access to competitive, secure, diverse and abundant supplies," and "enhance the reliability of future natural gas deliveries into the state," the solicitation says.

This past winter's extremely cold temperatures resulted in high natural gas demand throughout much of the nation, underscoring the need for additional natural gas pipeline capacity, utility industry observers have noted.

Duke Energy since 2005 has reduced company-wide carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent, sulfur dioxide emissions by 84 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 63 percent by building natural gas-fired power plants, closing coal-fired power plants and installing additional emission control equipment.

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