North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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21 N o r t h C a r o l i N a E C o N o m i C D E v E l o p m E N t G u i D E • • • he pipeline originates near one of the country's largest concentrations of natural gas, in the Marcellus and Oneida regions of north-central West Virginia. In early 2014, Duke Energy Corp. and Piedmont Natural Gas, now a division of Duke after the Charlotte-based utility bought it for $4.9 billion in October 2016, set out to tap it to fuel construction of new natural-gas electricity plants and to meet growing customer demand. About 80% of the pipeline's capacity will go to generating electricity for its power plants, says Duke spokeswoman Tammie McGee, and the remainder directly to homes, industry and businesses. Including electricity generation, more than 90% of the pipeline's total capacity is spoken for before construction begins, though its planned 1.5 billion cubic feet per day volume, which utility analysts say is equivalent to the energy needs of 5 million homes, can be expanded to 2 billion cubic feet. "We've built five gas plants in North Carolina since 2011 and have two more planned," adds Tom Williams, Duke's external affairs director. One of the proposed sites is in Asheville, the other is in South Carolina, and additional plants are scheduled, though sites have not yet been chosen. "Our carbon [emissions are] down 28% since 2005 and 6% in 2015 alone," because of reduced coal-plant production. Meanwhile, abundant Marcellus and Oneida shale gas is producing surpluses and driving down commodity prices. "We use about 2 billion cubic feet per year," says Worsinger, referring to the Rocky Mount system of about 27,000 electricity customers and 17,000 natural-gas users. While he never expected gas to fall below $5, it had fallen to half that price in mid-2016. "Through fracking and shale gas, natural gas has become plentiful, and the price has dropped." Measured in dekatherms (one thousand cubic feet), the common method of billing customers, Piedmont's benchmark or wholesale cost was as high as $11.50 per dekatherm as recently as 2008, says Trusty. By summer of 2015, it had dropped to $2.25. And power-intensive manufacturers such as Nucor and Universal aren't the only customers who benefit from lower costs. With hundreds of companies utilizing our 317 miles of track, and millions in annual dividends paid to the state, we're an essential part of North Carolina's comprehensive transportation system. We're committed to helping expand economic opportunities, attract new industry and create good jobs — today, and well down the line. With natural gas being used in greater and greater amounts to generate electricity, our indirect use of it through electricity consumption is also gro W ing." K a t h e r i n e M i l l e r N u c o r " T

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