Piedmont disputes claims of Raleigh swine-gas company

Piedmont Natural Gas warns regulators that a Raleigh company proposing some $200 million worth of swine-gas projects in North Carolina overstates or misstates the status of negotiations about transporting their biogas in a recent filing.

Piedmont spokesman Loree Elswick says the company is not challenging proposed plants or the Raleigh firm, GESS International North Carolina Inc.

She says Piedmont believes that some of the statements GESS made need to be corrected. And Piedmont challenges GESS’s assertion that it can sell some gas transported in Piedmont pipelines to a national energy marketer for resale to customers inside and outside North Carolina.

“Piedmont would note that there are no current … mechanisms or physical connections in place that would allow a Piedmont customer to redeliver gas … to a customer served by another piped gas provider in this state,” the company says in a filing Sept. 6 with the N.C. Utilities Commission, in response to GESS’s filing. “Any suggestion that GESS Alternative Gas could be resold or redelivered to customers outside of North Carolina is even more problematic.”

Union plant

Piedmont says in the filing it has talked to GESS about the possibility of injecting a biogas made from swine waste from several projects into the Piedmont pipeline system. But Piedmont says it has completed the engineering study for only one project — a $29 million swine- and chicken-waste plant GESS has proposed in Union County.

“That study indicates that Piedmont can accept alternative gas within Union County,” the company says. “But no agreement has been reached.”

Piedmont says GESS’ assertion that Piedmont has “designated injection points on its lines … within ten miles of all but one of the GESS project sites” is simply “untrue.” Piedmont says no sites have been agreed to.

Shaun Lee, operations manager with GESS, says Piedmont told GESS of its planned filing in advance. He says lawyers for GESS and Piedmont are discussing site locations and interconnection issues.

“I believe at this point both sides … want to work out the details,” he says, adding the discussions are “cooperative and I expect them to come to a positive outcome.”

Pilot program

Elswick confirms the ongoing discussions and echoes Lee’s optimism that the arrangements to inject gas into Piedmont’s system can be worked out.

Lee also says GESS has talked with a another company that has made sales from Piedmont’s system to other states, despite Piedmont’s claim that there are physical and regulatory barriers to such sales. He says GESS is working to make the same kind of arrangements.

GESS has applied to participate in a pilot program for injecting alternative gases, such as swine biogas, into Piedmont’s pipelines. The utilities commission established the pilot program this summer. To date, three projects have been approved for the pilot.

Only one, the OptimaKV project operated by Wilmington-based Optima BioEnergy in Kenansville, is currently producing swine gas transported by Piedmont. That gas is being sold to Duke Energy Corp. for use at natural gas plants in the Carolinas.

Charlotte-based Duke (NYSE:DUK) is the parent company of Piedmont.


Source: Charlotte Business Journal