- Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas and Piedmont Natural Gas have all asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission to extend contracts authorizing gas purchases from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
- The purchase agreements were originally approved in 2014, according to Charlotte Business Journal, but include a June 30 termination date if federal regulators have not approved the 600-mile regional pipeline.
- The pipeline is more than two years into a three-year regulatory process, and in December 2016, developers received a favorable draft environmental assessment. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is targeting July 21 for a final report, with a possible certificate in the fall.
Large infrastructure projects often take longer than anticipated to receive approval, and the termination deadline on Duke's utility contracts indicates the company had expected Atlantic Coast Pipeline to already have its certificate in hand.
Routing concerns, and a debate over whether the pipeline is necessary, have complicated the process, however. Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas are jointly developing the project, and believe it will be online in 2019.
The pipeline includes a 600-mile route, stretching from North Carolina into West Virginia, along with three planned compressor stations — one at the beginning of the pipeline in Lewis County, W. Va., one in central Virginia and one near the Virginia-North Carolina state line, in Northampton County, N.C.
The project will be capable of moving 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, and 20-year agreements with five utilities have secured more than 90% of the capacity. Officials say they are actively marketing the remaining capacity. Dominion Energy will own 48% and is developing the project; Duke and Piedmont own 47%; and Southern owns 5%. Duke owns all three utilities which requested extensions from North Carolina regulators.
According to Charlotte Business Journal, Piedmont's filing explained that “due in part to disputes that have arisen between ACP and various stakeholders in the pipeline routing and environmental review process, the certificate for ACP has not yet been issued but is expected to be issued in a number of months."
No changes are proposed to the contracts, except an extension to the gas purchase agreement deadline.