NJ Board of Public Utilities Urged to Vote "No" on Southern Reliability Link

Expert report shows lack of need undermines justification for approval

Mar 17, 2016, 11:55 ET from ReThink Energy NJ

FAR HILLS, N.J., March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- ReThink Energy NJ and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance today called upon the NJ Board of Public Utilities to reject the Southern Reliability Link. The groups maintain that the pipeline is entirely unnecessary to serve the public, violates Pinelands protections, and will harm the communities through which it is proposed to run.

"There is absolutely no need for this pipeline. New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) has acknowledged that its existing sources and transmission system are sufficient to serve all its current and anticipated future customers," said Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. "Ratepayers should not bear the $170 million burden to build a pipeline that is both unnecessary and a violation of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan."

An analysis of the proposed SRL project by Skipping Stone, a national firm with expertise in natural gas and energy market services, confirmed that NJNG already has a resilient and redundant system with multiple north/south and east/west transmission pipelines covering its service area, and that it already obtains gas from different suppliers at multiple points. The analysis by an expert at Skipping Stone concluded that: "The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the SRL is part of a larger corporate business plan to benefit NJNG and its parent company." 

Montgomery noted that NJNG has relied solely on the judgment of one individual, its vice president of energy delivery, to justify the need for a redundant pipeline. It admitted to the BPU that it has no internal written analysis, much less any independent analysis, showing a major new transmission line would be the most prudent and cost-effective means to ensure its system remains reliable.

"Gas consumption in the Mid-Atlantic region is projected to decline over the next 10 years and remain flat through 2040. Unneeded pipelines like the SRL cannot be justified at a time when we need to reduce our use of dirty fuels, like natural gas, and switch to clean, renewable energy that will create jobs and healthier communities," said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for ReThink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

The new pipeline is proposed to run through Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (Joint Base), which lies entirely within the Pinelands. The Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan permits development in the Joint Base if it is "associated with the function of the Federal installation," and to the extent possible avoids the Pinelands Preservation Area. As proposed, the new pipeline violates both these standards, and does not connect to the Joint Base at all, Montgomery noted.

Of particular concern throughout the pipeline's route in the Pinelands is the fact that the pipeline will be immersed in the groundwater aquifer and likely to leak methane, which would contaminate groundwater. The proposed route of the SRL runs through multiple areas of groundwater contamination, including two Superfund sites, where it risks altering the hydrology (movement of ground water) on which the remediation plans for these areas depend.

About ReThink Energy NJ
ReThink Energy NJ is led by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Stony Brook-Millstone Water Association, Pinelands Preservation Alliance. For more information, find on Facebook Rethink Energy NJ  and Twitter @rethinkenergynj.

About Pinelands Preservation Alliance
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the natural and cultural resources of the New Jersey Pinelands.

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SOURCE ReThink Energy NJ