Southern Reliability Link
(FERC docket number CP15-89)
New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) has submitted an application to the NJ Board of Public Utilities and the Pinelands Commission to build a 28-mile long, 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline through portions of Burlington and Ocean Counties. The proposed route passes through Chesterfield, North Hanover, Upper Freehold and Plumsted before reaching Route 539, where it turns south and enters the Pinelands and travels through the Joint Base. Before leaving the Base, the route then turns east near the southern boundary of the Base, enters the Borough of Lakehurst and ends in Manchester. NJNG promotes it as a second pipeline feeding the southern end of its territory that would enhance the reliability of the service provided to customers.
On January 27, 2016, the BPU approved the company’s request to construct and operate the SRL. On March 18, 2016, the BPU found the SRL reasonably necessary for the service, convenience or welfare of the public.
The BPU approval in 2017 was based on the stated rationale that it would provide greater reliability to NJNG’s customers in the event of a major interruption on TETCO (Texas Eastern Transmission Company), the primary pipeline supplying gas to NJNG’s network. In its approval, BPU explained that SRL would address the situation in which a major failure on TETCO, at a single point, would make NJNG unable to get a majority of its supplies from TETCO and that, If built, SRL would enable NJNG to get a portion of that supply at a new interconnection with Transco, a pipeline that is already a second source for NJNG.
BPU’s approvals of SRL relied entirely on the premise that SRL is reasonably necessary to serve the public because it would avoid major disruptions due to a Single Point of Failure in the TETCO supply to NJNG.
As of September 2017, New Jersey Natural Gas had also obtained approvals for the pipeline from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and had secured permits from many of the affected municipalities and counties. On September 14, 2017 it was approved by the Pinelands Commission (8-4), during the current Murphy administration.
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance and impacted municipalities are fighting the project in the courts.
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance commissioned Skipping Stone, an energy consulting firm, to do a second analysis of the Southern Reliability Link proposal. The Skipping Stone report51 found that the pipeline is unnecessary, and a major disruption to the existing natural gas network is highly unlikely. Further, the Skipping Stone report found that a 5.4-mile pipeline connecting the Transco and TETCO pipelines further north, in the Freehold area, would provide the same level of backup as the Southern Reliability Link. The report states:
“Our analysis shows that SRL is not an effective or reasonable response to a single point of failure scenario and that a less costly and less disruptive alternative exists to address a possible interruption on TETCO. The analysis also shows that SRL does not, in fact, provide an adequate remedy, and would leave NJNG with 66% of its requirements unmet.
This analysis demonstrates that there is only one genuine, though remote, Single Point of Failure scenario for the TETCO supply to NJNG’s system, based on a failure along a recently built 12-mile lateral line. Skipping Stone was unable to construct any scenario involving a major disruption of the TETCO mainline at a single point for which a facility of the magnitude of SRL would be an efficacious, reasonable or cost-effective response.
To address the only genuine risk on the TETCO system, Skipping Stone identified a viable alternative to SRL that would cost less than 20% of the cost of SRL and pose minimal local impacts, without traversing the protected region of the Pinelands. This analysis concludes that SRL is an unneeded and flawed project.”
The designed capacity of the SRL is 280,000 dekatherms/ day (280Mcf/day). Although this is being positioned as a backup pipeline, given the above critique it would be reasonable to assume NJNG has other plans to use this pipeline, such as supporting customer growth. Therefore, for the purposes of GHG emissions calculations it is assumed that half the capacity will be used annually.
Based on the assumptions described in Appendix I of our report, the GHG emissions are estimated as follows:
- Emissions from the combustion of the gas the pipeline would carry = 2.75 MMt (million metric tons) CO2
- Total emissions from methane leaked across the gas supply chain (extraction to consumption) (Pennsylvania and New Jersey) = 1.96 MMt CO2e
- Emissions from methane leaked during transportation and consumption in New Jersey = 0.34 MMt CO2e
- Total emissions from pipeline in New Jersey = 4.73 MMt CO2e
The Christie administration provided approvals by the BPU and the DEP. On September 16, 2016 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) determined that, based on the recently modified Flood Hazard rules, no formal authorization for the proposed New Jersey Natural Gas Southern Reliability Link Pipeline would be required.
The Pinelands Commission approval was under the Murphy administration.