By Stan Welch
Duke Energy has announced the acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas for a total investment of $6.7 billion. Duke will assume $1.8 million in debts and will provide an additional $4.9 billion in cash.
Duke spokesperson Emily DeRoberts stated, “ This transaction brings together two utilities with a long, solid track record of providing safe, reliable electric and gas service to customers in the Carolinas. The transaction will expand Duke Energy’s natural gas platform, enabling us to enhance the customer experience in the Carolinas with better overall energy reliability and additional energy solutions.”
Recent improvements in techniques for capturing natural gas have led to the lowest prices in decades, and have fueled a major shift in many industries in terms of fuel used to generate electricity.
The transaction will bring a million and a half natural gas customers into the Duke fold, which currently includes seven million plus electricity consumers. Thirty two thousand miles of pipeline in seven states will be involved. Both Carolinas, Florida, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky will be affected.
Additionally, this transaction will expand Duke Energy’s natural gas infrastructure portfolio, which is becoming a more important part of our future as low-cost natural gas becomes the preeminent source of energy in the nation.
The scale of the combined local distribution companies , which ranks as the fifteenth largest in the nation, creates a platform for further growth in the business and an ability to harvest efficiencies for the benefit of our customers and investors.
Ryan Mosier, spokesman for Duke Energy said, “Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas possess solid track records of providing electric and gas service to North Carolina and South Carolina customers. Both companies have played lead roles in supporting economic development in the Carolinas and this will certainly continue.”
Duke Energy will continue to be headquartered in Charlotte. Piedmont will retain its name, operate as a business unit of Duke Energy and maintain a significant presence in its headquarters in southeast Charlotte.
“We are targeting the end of 2016 to close the transaction, pending regulatory approvals. At the federal level, we will need anti-trust clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. In North Carolina, we will seek the approval of the NC Utilities Commission. In South Carolina, notice of the transaction will be provided to the Public Service Commission” said DeRoberts.