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By Sasha Weintraub
Senior vice president of Duke Energy’s natural gas business 

As a natural progression of our comprehensive climate strategy, we’ve been working to establish an actionable methane reduction goal, and we’ve committed to reducing methane emissions to net-zero by 2030 for our natural gas distribution companies.

Our plan paves the way for responsible growth of our natural gas distribution system and furthers our journey toward a clean energy future. We’re moving forward with several initiatives to realize our net-zero goal. 

Reaching net-zero methane emissions in our natural gas business by 2030

Our focus first turns to our natural gas distribution businesses in five states, including Piedmont Natural Gas in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and our Midwest business in Ohio and Kentucky.

We’re already on our way with the work we’ve done to eliminate all cast iron and bare steel main piping in our distribution companies, a major contributor to methane leakage.

Building on the success of this investment, we’re proactively implementing additional improvements to reduce emissions even further throughout our delivery systems.  

We’re moving forward with new technologies to increase our measurement and monitoring of methane emissions, pinpointing leaks even faster. We have a pilot project underway for the use of satellite and fixed-wing detection of methane gas, and we’re analyzing drones and real-time measurement devices as well.

We’re adopting best operating practices and increased damage prevention initiatives to further reduce leaks on our system. For example, we’ve increased leak surveys from every five years to every three years.  

We’re implementing initiatives to reduce the unintended escape of methane when third parties damage our pipelines. We are deploying our expert technicians to oversee high-risk excavations under a new Watch and Protect program. And, we are adopting Gold Shovel Standard operating principles to improve public safety and the integrity of buried infrastructure.

Reducing upstream methane emissions

When we think about reducing methane emissions, it’s important to consider the upstream emissions too.  

We’re driving our natural gas procurement process for gas distribution and power generation toward suppliers with low methane emissions, striking a balance between responsible procurement and maintaining affordability for our customers.

We’re joining those in the industry working to achieve significant reductions in upstream methane emissions, alleviating concerns about leakage in natural gas production and transportation.

To achieve this, we’ve joined ONE Future, a coalition of natural gas companies finding solutions to voluntarily reduce methane emissions across the natural gas supply chain – with a goal to lower emissions to less than 1% by 2025. 

Finally, to capture remaining emissions we can’t eliminate through responsible procurement and improvements in our operations, we’ll purchase renewable natural gas, and other offsets if necessary, to drive down any remaining methane emissions to net-zero over the next 10 years.