New Report Shows PennEast Pipeline Not Needed Under Any Scenario
Sep 26, 2018
The title of a new report from New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation) sums it up: The proposed PennEast pipeline is a solution in search of a problem.
The report, written by Barbara Blumenthal, PhD, 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.
“At this point,” the report concludes, “building unnecessary pipelines will only increase costs and increase emissions, taking the state in the wrong direction.”
Natural gas is now a major source of emissions in New Jersey, as it provides energy for electricity generation as well as for heating and cooling. The state has a legislative mandate to achieve 80 percent lower emissions by 2050, requiring a major decline in natural gas consumption across most sectors of the economy.
Instead, a smart combination of wind, solar, flexible load, storage, and stepped-up energy efficiency will not only heat, cool, and power New Jersey reliably, it will save money and support a vibrant economy.
“This report counters PennEast’s misleading claims and scare tactics with hard facts and solid analysis and makes clear that building PennEast would only add to a glut of pipeline capacity while driving up costs and emissions,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, NJ Conservation and ReThink Energy NJ. “The research shows that a clean energy future based on renewables will save money, reduce emissions, grow our economy, and improve community health and safety.”
The report compiles and updates research from gas experts and includes these key points:
- New Jersey currently has substantial excess pipeline capacity to meet its needs – even during extreme cold periods – and by 2030 will continue to have more than 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of excess capacity. PennEast would add another 1 billion cubic feet of unnecessary capacity.
- Experts reconfirmed this finding of excess capacity using new data from the extreme cold period (referred to as the “Bomb Cyclone”) from December 2017 through January 2018, stating: “This analysis shows that PennEast is not needed to meet peak winter demand, not even for a single day, even during extreme weather events.”
- There is even more than enough excess pipeline capacity to accommodate an increase in gas-fired electricity generation that could arise if the state’s remaining coal and nuclear plants were to close.
- The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel concluded that the proposed PennEast pipeline’s self-dealing contracts do not reflect genuine market demand, and no evidence supports PennEast’s claim that its pipeline would increase pipeline grid reliability.
- By creating a further glut of capacity, PennEast would increase costs to New Jersey consumers by $180 million to $280 million per year.
- Independent research found that PennEast inflated its estimated job numbers by at least 66% and that the project would result in only 10 ongoing jobs in New Jersey. According to the research, PennEast would have an “infinitesimally small” contribution to the economy. On the other hand, clean energy jobs already employ about 52,000 New Jerseyans, and this number will grow significantly.
- New Jersey must substantially reduce its use of natural gas, the primary source of emissions in the electricity generation, commercial, and residential sectors, in order to meet its Global Warming Response Act goals.
- New studies that model electric grids each year until 2050 show that little-to-no-gas will be needed by 2050 if states support low-cost pathways with optimized clean energy portfolios.
The report contains in-depth explanations of these points and others, supported by citations from experts. It includes detailed analysis of energy capacity and demand in New Jersey, and explores various contingencies that could affect the state’s energy situation for years to come.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll conducted this month for ReThink Energy NJ shows that New Jersey voters embrace a clean energy future. Sixty-six percent do not consider natural gas to be “clean” energy, an astounding 23-point increase since 2016, and three of every four voters want New Jersey to reach 100 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2050.
The full report is available here.
The State We're In
By Michele S. Byers,