Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas have chosen a builder and route for a new, major interstate natural gas pipeline to run through North Carolina, only the second such pipeline in the state. The first was built in 1951.
Virginia power company Dominion will build and operate the $5 billion pipeline. It will move natural gas 550 miles from Harrison County, West Virginia, through Virginia, down eastern North Carolina from Northampton to Robeson Counties.
Duke, Piedmont and Dominion will all own a portion and use the gas it delivers.
Duke Energy spokesman Dave Scanzoni says his company wants more supply lines.
“We have opened five new natural gas plants in the last four years,” Scanzoni says. “We plan to open another one in South Carolina in the next couple of years.”
Since the shale gas boom began in 2007 (using the controversial drilling process known as fracking), natural gas prices have plummeted, and power companies have increasingly relied on the fuel.
North Carolina has one interstate gas pipeline—the massive Transco, which runs from Texas to New England. It last received a nominal expansion in 2004.
Supply became a problem this winter, Scanzoni says.
“There was a huge demand of natural gas with extremely cold temperatures, people running their furnaces and buildings had to be heated and so forth, and that created quite high pressure on the price of natural gas,” he says.
Both North Carolina governor Pat McCrory and Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe praised the project as a job creator. The governors, in separate statements, said the project will create hundreds of construction jobs and could lure energy-hungry manufacturers looking to plug-in directly to the pipeline.
Dominion is already conducting land surveys. It will need federal approval to begin construction—it expects that in 2016, and to start operation in 2018.