New Jersey officials say PennEast gas pipeline application is incomplete

Dive Brief:

  • The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has determined that a freshwater permit application for the PennEast natural gas pipeline is incomplete, and regulators have given developers 30 days to address the issues.
  • The $1 billion, 120-mile line would originate in northeastern Pennsylvania and run to a Transco pipeline interconnection in New Jersey.
  • Project developers are stalled at the federal level as well: they are waiting on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to determine there is a need for the pipeline, but the short-handed commission lacks a quorum to make that determination.

Dive Insight:

Had the PennEast pipeline been in service during the 2013-2014 winter, developers estimate that the system could have saved consumers almost $900 million. But despite the potential for savings, pipeline construction in the Northeast has been slowed by fossil fuel opposition and questions over the need for new capacity.

PennEast developers say construction of the new line would take about seven months, and pending approvals should begin operating next year. But first they will need to satisfy the New Jersey DEP, according to AP, which reported the agency is concerned about a lack of agreement with property owners along the pipeline's proposed route, as well as other technical filings.

PennEast's permitting snag mirrors other pipeline difficulties. In New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this month rejected National Fuel Gas' proposed Northern Access pipeline, a roughly-100 mile pipeline that targeted markets in Western New York, the Midwest and Canada. And Spectra Energy's Access Northeast hit a snag last year, when a Massachusetts judge ruled the state couldn't require electric customers to foot the bill.

Grid operators in the region have warned that a refusal to build new pipeline capacity in the Northeast could put winter power reliability at risk when heating demand spikes. Generators have warned of possible reliability issues as well. 

PennEast Pipeline Co. is being developed by several different companies, including NJR Pipeline, PSEG Power, SJI Midstream, Southern Co. Gas, Spectra Energy Partners and UGI Energy Services.

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