A new proposed pipeline would connect North Carolina to the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, bringing a massive new flow of natural gas to the southeastern United States.The plan, from Duke Energy, calls for the construction of a 550-mile natural gas pipeline that will originate in shale gas country. It would begin in Harrison County, West Virginia and stretch southeast through Virginia. Once it crosses into North Carolina, it would travel southwest through the state. A separate extension would spur off from the route in Virginia and travel eastwards to Hampton Roads.The pipeline would be constructed by Dominion Resources, which would maintain a 45 percent stake in the project. Duke would have 40 percent ownership, with 10 percent going to Piedmont Natural Gas Company, and the remaining 5 percent to AGL Resources Inc.If completed, the $4.5 to $5 billion natural gas pipeline could have broad ramifications for energy in the southeast. Duke Energy is the largest electricity generator in the country, so bringing natural gas to its plants in North Carolina would mean a significant rise in natural gas consumption, and consequently, a potentially large reduction in coal generation. Coal currently makes up about 40 percent of Duke’s generation portfolio, but the company says that by next year it will have diversified its profile to have equal portions of its generation coming from coal, natural gas and nuclear power.
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