PennEast Pipeline (Central NJ)
(FERC docket number CP15-558)
There is significant grassroots and litigation opposition to this project led by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, NJ Sierra Club, Environment NJ, HALT and Rethink Energy NJ.
The proposed 118-mile PennEast pipeline would cross the Delaware Wild and Scenic River and more than 4,300 acres of preserved lands in New Jersey, threatening significant natural and historic resources. The pipeline would originate in Dallas, Luzerne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, and terminate at Transco’s pipeline interconnection near Pennington, Mercer County, New Jersey (approximately one-third of the route is located in New Jersey).
The PennEast pipeline would bring an additional 1.1 billion cubic feet per day of gas to Southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Multiple experts have stated and documented that there is no need for the PennEast pipeline. According to a study by the Labyrinth Consulting Group41, operation of PennEast, as proposed by the operator would result in a 53% surplus beyond current demand in New Jersey. The Labyrinth Study also concluded that “existing interstate pipelines supply all of New Jersey’s natural gas demands,” and that the true intent of the project is to deliver gas to other downstream markets. A report written by Barbara Blumenthal, Ph.D., research director, NJ Conservation, provides data and analysis showing that the pipeline isn’t needed to satisfy need, to reduce natural gas prices, or to ensure reliability or a low-cost transition to a clean energy future.
Two studies by Skipping Stone came to the same conclusion regarding the lack of need for PennEast. Skipping Stone first analyzed the assertion that PennEast was required to provide year round service, and/or even to meet peak winter demand in 2016, and found no evidence that it was required. The report states that both New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania natural gas demands can be met by existing pipelines and supplemental supplies through 2030.
Skipping Stone performed a second analysis based on winter weather for 2017/2018 (aka the “bomb-cyclone”) and stated, “Our analysis shows that gas flow for this region is now bi-directional, which has greatly expanded the available delivery capacity, without additional, pipeline capacity into the subject region,” and, “this analysis shows that PennEast is not needed to meet peak winter demand, not even for a single day, even during extreme weather events.”
The New Jersey Rate Counsel, an independent state agency that represents the interests of utility customers, has concluded that the project backers have failed to demonstrate actual need for the gas.
PennEast asserts that the need for the pipeline is demonstrated by contracts for most of the proposed pipeline’s capacity. As described by the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel’s comments on the PennEast FERC Docket these contracts do not demonstrate need; it is the PennEast companies that have contracted for their own capacity in order to support their argument that there is a need.
“PennEast bases its claim of need on “precedent agreements with seven foundation shippers and twelve total shippers, which together combine for a commitment of firm capacity of 990,000 dekatherms per day (‘Dth/d’),” approximately 90% of the Project’s total capacity. …. In this case, approximately 610,000 Dth/d of the 990,000 Dth/d of capacity has been contracted by affiliates of the Project owners. ….. Of the twelve shippers that have subscribed to Project capacity, five of them are affiliates of companies that collectively own PennEast. ….. Thus, two-thirds of the demand for the pipeline exists because the Project’s stakeholders have said it is needed. This self-dealing undermines the assertion of need that the DEIS relies upon ….” (emphasis added; citations omitted)
A NJSpotlight article on Nov. 2016 states, “Rate Counsel notes PennEast bases the need on the fact that several New Jersey and Pennsylvania utilities — some of which are sponsors of the project — have subscribed to 60 percent of the pipeline’s anticipated capacity. But Rate Counsel countered that those same utilities, in annual filings to state regulators, “make plain that they have sufficient capacity without the new pipeline to meet forecasted load growth.’’
The Rate Counsel’s comments to FERC go on to state, “Given that two-thirds of the capacity under precedent agreements is with affiliates of the owners, the DEIS should have included an independent analysis of the need for the capacity the proposed Project will provide. NJ Rate Counsel asserts that such an independent analysis would have revealed that the forecasted supply and demand requirements for New Jersey and Pennsylvania local gas distribution companies (“LDCs”) can be met through existing supply arrangements. Data show that the forecasted demands of the LDCs (local distribution companies) that PennEast is designed to supply are already being met by existing gas supply arrangements and available transportation capacity.”
“The pipeline proposed by the PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC…would adversely and permanently affect critical forest and water resources that provide essential habitat and other natural resource services.” stated Bonnie Watson Coleman, U.S. Representative (D – District 12). The PennEast pipeline would cut through 67 bodies of water and over 15,186 feet of wetlands. It would clear thousands of acres of forest in New Jersey, fragmenting mature forests into smaller patches of habitat, reducing their value for forest-dependent wildlife and making these areas more susceptible to colonization by non-native invasive species that can out-compete native species.
The PennEast project includes three Solar Mars 100 compressor units (total 47,700 hp) in Kidder Twp. (Carbon County) PA. Based on data from the NESE applicant, each such unit could emit 130,863 tons of CO2/year and 33.4 tons of methane/year for a total of 392,589 tons of CO2/yr. and 100.2 tons of methane/yr from the burning of methane to power the compressors.
Based on the assumptions and estimates described in Appendix I of our report, the total annual GHG emissions from the PennEast pipeline would be:
- Emissions from the combustion of the gas the pipeline would carry = 13.73 MMt (million metric tons) CO2
- Total emissions from methane leaked across the gas supply chain (extraction to consumption) (Pennsylvania and New Jersey) = 9.9 MMt CO2e
- Emissions from methane leaked during transportation and consumption in New Jersey = 1.68 MMt CO2e
- Total emissions from pipeline in New Jersey = 15.42 MMt CO2e
Emissions from the three compressors in Pennsylvania would be 0.19MMt of CO2.
On September 19, 2018, New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General filed a petition for review of FERC’s certificate for the PennEast pipeline in the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.