A recent move by Duke Energy to delay bringing into service a 620 MW power plant in Virginia and a separate decision by a Cogentrix Energy unit to scrap plans to build a 1,100 MW plant in the state won’t effect Duke Energy Gas Transmission’s (DEGT) ongoing Patriot pipeline extension, a DEGT spokesperson told NGI last week.

Construction on the Patriot Project began on March 20, 2003, and is comprised of the Patriot Expansion and Patriot Extension. The expansion is a 187-mile enhancement of the existing East Tennessee Natural Gas system in Tennessee and western Virginia.

The Patriot extension is a new 24-inch diameter pipeline that will connect to the East Tennessee Natural Gas mainline in Wythe County, VA, and follow a 95-mile route through Carroll, Floyd, Patrick and Henry counties in Virginia, ending in Rockingham County, NC. The extension will bring a competitive alternative source of natural gas to the Northern Piedmont of North Carolina and will provide many areas of southwest Virginia access to natural gas for the first time.

Sticking to its end of the year in service deadline, Duke Energy Gas Transmission (DEGT) last month said that it had successfully installed, inspected and tested 1,666 feet of Patriot Extension natural gas pipeline under the New River in Wythe County, VA, and was continuing construction on a 53-mile section of the pipeline moving east from the river.

Duke Energy North America (DENA) recently delayed the schedule for bringing into service a proposed 620 MW power plant in Wythe County, VA, and, separately, a Cogentrix subsidiary last month cancelled plans to build a more-than-1,000 MW power plant in Henry County, VA. According to published reports, DENA doesn’t plan on bringing its proposed plant online before November 2005.

“None of this impacts the extension, the new piece, that we’re building right now through Virginia,” DEGT spokesperson Gretchen Krueger said. “The only thing that’s impacted is a seven-mile, 16-inch diameter lateral” that would have stretched into Henry County, VA, to serve the Cogentrix plant. “Obviously, we’re not going to build that because…this was to go directly to serve Cogentrix.”

Krueger noted that the project has several customers that are coming online later this year, including New Jersey-based marketer NJR Energy Services and Virginia-based NUI Energy Brokers. “The two pieces [of the Patriot project] work together to feed these customers,” she said.

“The New Jersey marketer that stepped in, we feel demonstrates the need [for] natural gas in that particular region,” Krueger said. While DENA has apparently delayed its 620 MW plant for two years, NJR Energy Services’ move to contract with DEGT shows that “there still continues to be an interest in this project and the need for gas,”she added. “We still see the demand there, despite the slow down and deferment of some projects and cancellation of others.”

©Copyright 2003 Intelligence Press Inc. Allrights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republishedor redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without priorwritten consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.