ICYMI: NC Can Open a Pipeline to New Industry

| Energy, Infrastructure

Last week, David Fountain, North Carolina president of Duke Energy and NC Chamber chair, penned an op-ed published in The News & Observer highlighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s ability to strengthen North Carolina’s economic development. Entitled “NC can open a pipeline to new industry,” the piece makes the case for the pipeline, arguing that North Carolina must ready its infrastructure to bolster the state’s competitive advantage now and into the future – and David is exactly right. The 600-mile underground, interstate pipeline will be an economic game-changer for North Carolina.

As David points out, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would create “more than 4,400 short-term construction jobs right now, paving the way for thousands of permanent jobs down the road.” In addition to the thousands of jobs the pipeline will produce, it will also generate $680.2 million in economic activity during construction and $7.7 million every year in local tax revenue for the eight eastern North Carolina counties along the route of the pipeline. This, on top of the estimated $134 million families and businesses will save in lower energy costs annually. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s inadequate supply of reliable natural gas to the eastern part of the state has caused extreme spikes in energy prices during frigid temperatures. As David discusses, the record-low temperatures set earlier this month caused natural gas prices to “soar due to constrained delivery infrastructure.” The average cost rose tenfold, to $34 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf), peaking at $120/Mcf. To compare, gas was selling for $3/Mcf where the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would draw its supply – a cost consumers would no doubt prefer, especially businesses weighing whether to locate in the state. As the largest capital project in decades in North Carolina, David also points out that the pipeline is expected to stimulate $1.2 billion in capital investment in the state over the first two decades of operation.

It’s clear that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is vital to powering North Carolina’s competitive economy. David says it best, “[t]he critical energy infrastructure provided by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will help meet the state’s growing energy needs, giving us the ability to attract new businesses and industries that can create thousands of permanent, good-paying jobs, while delivering more affordable energy for our families and businesses.” I encourage you to take a moment to read his op-ed in totality, as this project is critical to our state’s future.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber