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Dominion plans 45-mile pipeline to boost natural gas flow in NC, supply Duke Energy
Dominion plans 45-mile pipeline to boost natural gas flow in NC, supply Duke Energy

Dominion Energy is planning to build a new pipeline across three northern North Carolina counties, a key link in the utility’s plan to supply Duke Energy’s planned natural gas power plants on Hyco Lake’s southern shore.

When complete, the new pipeline would connect first with the Transco Pipeline, the only one currently pumping natural gas into the state, Dominion spokeswoman Persida Montanez wrote in an email. In time it could also connect with the proposed MVP Southgate, which is planned to enter North Carolina from Virginia and end near Eden, where the Dominion pipeline would start.

Dominion’s pipeline would span 45 miles, starting near the eastern shore of the Dan River. It would run southeast in an existing Dominion pipeline corridor and make a sharp turn to the north for about eight miles to reach Duke’s two planned natural gas plants near the existing Roxboro coal-fired power plant.

Dominion has an agreement to transport natural gas for Duke’s Person County plants. “The new pipeline is needed as we work to modernize our system to comply with federal safety regulations and meet natural gas demand,” Montanez said in a statement.

The need to meet increased demand is similar to what Dominion said when it sought permission to build a storage facility that could hold 25 million gallons of liquefied natural gas in Person County late last year. That project, which was approved over significant community opposition, is still awaiting an air permit from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

Environmental groups in North Carolina have opposed the continued buildout of natural gas infrastructure in the state, citing climate concerns.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas. It can leak when transported and leaks into the atmosphere after being burned at natural gas plants or in homes.

“There’s just a lot of proposed gas infrastructure in this area. That’s very concerning at a time when we need to be moving toward renewable energy, not doubling down on fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Caroline Hansley, a senior field organizer with the Sierra Club.

Hansley is also worried about the potential impacts to creeks and streams while the pipeline is being built along with risks of fires or explosions when natural gas starts to flow.

Details about the pipeline project are still being finalized, including what the updates to the Ruffin Compressor Station in eastern Rockingham County could entail, Montanez said.

If the overhauled compressor station runs on gas, it would likely need an updated state air permit. And the pipeline will need state water quality certifications if it crosses streams or wetlands.

Unlike MVP Southgate, the Dominion project would not need the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because it would not cross state lines.

A Dominion timeline on its website indicates that construction on its North Carolina pipeline could start as soon as 2025, with natural gas flowing as soon as 2027.

Natural gas pipelines in NC

Completion of the Dominion pipeline does not rely on either MVP Southgate or competitor Transco finishing planned projects that will bring more natural gas to the state, Montanez said.

MVP Southgate emerged from dormancy last summer, after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin worked to include language ensuring the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s main stem was part of a bill that raised the debt ceiling.

Previously, North Carolina regulators had struck downstream crossing permits for Southgate, in part because they did not want construction to move forward if the main stem was going to go unbuilt. They didn’t want a pipeline to nowhere.

With the main pipeline from West Virginia to southern Virginia moving forward, the extension into North Carolina was viable again.

In December, MVP received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to finish construction of the Southgate pipeline from Chatham, Virginia into North Carolina as late as 2026.

MVP will still need to obtain the stream crossing and buffer protection permits that DEQ has previously denied before beginning construction on Southgate.

Days after receiving the FERC approval, Southgate’s owners announced they had widened the pipeline to 30 inches and shortened its route from 75 to 31 miles, ending it in Eden. It also announced MVP Southgate would be completed in 2028, meaning it will need another construction extension from FERC.

The wider pipe was necessary, MVP said, to account for demand from a second customer that had joined Dominion’s Public Service Company of North Carolina.

Duke Energy is that second customer, Equitrans Midstream Corporation, the Pittsburgh-area natural gas company that owns nearly 50% of both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Southgate, told investors Tuesday. Southgate has commitments from Duke and Dominion to carry at least 550,000 dekatherms of natural gas each day.

That’s larger than Transco’s planned upgrades, which would add 423,000 dekatherms of daily capacity by winter 2024, an amount the pipeline’s owners have said could heat about 2 million homes in the Carolinas.

FERC has already approved Transco’s Southside Reliability Enhancement, a series of upgrades to compressor stations and other infrastructure.


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