The so-called "shale revolution" has upset traditional notions of supply and demand centers for natural gas and crude oil. Demand centers in the Northeast traditionally needed to import natural gas or oil from distant supply centers, such as Texas or Louisiana. However, major plays located near these demand centers, such as the Marcellus shale, are causing directional flows on existing pipelines to change. In addition, these plays have spurred the need for additional pipeline infrastructure development to transport crude oil and natural gas liquids from major shale plays in the Northeast and the Midwest to processing and manufacturing facilities that currently exist or are under development in Texas and Louisiana.
This article explores combining the traditional oil and gas pipeline structure with solar electric generation to: (1) increase the return on pipeline investments by making the income from a solar electric generation business available to pipeline operators; and (2) lower the cost of operating the pipeline. After a brief overview of the current state of U.S. pipeline infrastructure, this Article describes the structure generally used for current pipeline investment and pending legislation, which would make the structure available to solar electric generation businesses. The Article then explores the potential benefits of combining solar generation and pipeline transportation businesses if the pending legislation passes.
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