Should Ohio Power Siting Board allow pipeline?: Project would serve Duke Energy Ohio customers

Natural gas is American-made energy. Duke Energy is in the business of safely transporting natural gas to our customers in southwest Ohio for their consumption. Natural gas is one of the cornerstones of our communities — our homes, businesses, schools, restaurants and hospitals. Large diameter natural gas lines are found in metropolitan areas all over the country. Without a network of pipelines, our homes, businesses, schools, restaurants and hospitals would be unable to receive a dependable supply of natural gas.

Last year, Duke Energy Ohio announced plans to construct a new natural gas pipeline through Hamilton County that will allow us to continue delivering safe and reliable natural gas to the next generation of customers in southwest Ohio. This proposed Central Corridor pipeline was designed so we can retire half-century-old propane air peaking facilities, which are used to supplement supply of natural gas on the coldest days of the year. These propane peaking facilities are functionally obsolete. New technology and design will enhance the safety of our natural-gas distribution system. Retiring aging infrastructure is the safe and prudent thing to do.

Because a portion of the Central Corridor pipeline is in a dense area, the entire line will be designed to the highest level of federal regulations, more stringent than they would be in rural areas. Characteristics for this project, above and beyond what federal regulations require, include:

‒ A higher grade of steel.

‒ Thicker walls of the pipe itself.

‒ An epoxy coating applied to protect the pipe from corrosion.

‒ Remote control shut-off valves installed to help isolate individual pipeline segments and to reconfigure the system to maintain its integrity.

‒ All pipeline segments located within 2.5 miles of a remote control shut-off valve.

In addition, once the pipeline is in operation, federal requirements address the maintenance and safe operation of the pipeline. Examples of these include annual and quarterly surveys over the entire length of the pipeline to detect leaks and corrosion.

As required by law, Duke Energy Ohio locates and marks its facilities prior to third-party excavations. An inspector will be dispatched to a pipeline excavation site to observe and confirm the integrity of the facility when a third party calls 811 for an excavation.

Duke Energy’s central gas-control team also will monitor pressures 24/7 on our natural-gas network. And the design of the pipeline will accommodate in-line inspection tools.

This new Central Corridor pipeline will help Duke Energy to balance its delivery sources of natural-gas supplies, and support the replacement of aging infrastructure on our local distribution system. This pipeline is just the beginning of a number of improvements we’ll need to make on the system in the years ahead.

Projects like the Central Corridor pipeline bring tremendous benefits to consumers and businesses across southwest Ohio. These projects represent some of the largest infrastructure investments in our region, supporting well-paying jobs during construction and long-term jobs once operational. For our region to continue receiving safe and reliable energy, we must encourage investments in projects that will upgrade and modernize critical energy infrastructure.

In a May report, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) staff wrote that Duke Energy had demonstrated the need for the project and recommended choosing the alternate route. The company asked to postpone a September adjudicatory hearing, to allow for additional investigation along that alternate route.

As we move forward, we will continue to work with communities and customers along the project routes. We know how important natural gas is to each one of you, and we want to continue being the energy partner people have grown to know and trust over the last 175 years.

We take seriously our obligation to serve its customers, and we work diligently each and every day to safely meet all of your family’s natural-gas needs.

Jim Henning is president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.