Last week, the state Board of Public Utilities approved the 22-mile natural gas line, explaining that the project fits the state’s energy master plan to expand its distribution infrastructure — which pretty much means more pipelines. The BPU essentially ignored any environmental concerns, while supporters offer the usual assurances of how much better this will be for everyone. For example, the project will provide gas to the B.L. England plant in Cape May County that will replace an old — and shuttered — coal-powered operation, providing cleaner energy.
The bipartisan legislation, (S-2444), sponsored by Senators Bob Smith and Christopher “Kip” Bateman would require an increase every five years in the percentage of the state’s energy coming from renewables, such as solar and wind, eventually reaching 80 percent by 2050. Currently, New Jersey has a target of 22.5 percent of energy from renewables by 2020.
The campaign said it was time for New Jersey to adopt forward-thinking clean energy policies with the same sense of urgency demonstrated by 196 world leaders in Paris as they finalized a unanimous, international climate pact earlier this week.
New Jersey Resources (NJR), parent company of New Jersey Natural Gas, in July told investors in a quarterly earnings call that the proposed pipeline would gain federal approval in 2017 and begin operating in 2018, according to an NJR presentation. But in its Nov. 24 year-end earnings call, those projections were removed. The company in its presentation to investors omitted the project’s final approval projection in 2017 and its operational date in 2018. Instead, the company said there would be “continuing progress” on the pipeline in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
NJ Conservation Foundation cited new research on actual gas flows during the Polar Vortex showing that several of the five interstate natural gas pipelines serving PJM East (the electric grid operator) never fully utilized their existing capacity even as spot market gas prices skyrocketed.