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NJ Sierra Club: PSEG Looking to Build Gas Pipelines and Hungry for More NJ Ratepayer Money

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by New Jersey Sierra Club

PSEG has announced a major infrastructure investment program for New Jersey they call their Clean Energy Proposal. This includes $3 billion to improve the reliability and safety of its natural gas distribution system through the recently approved extension of its Gas System Modernization Program. PSEG outlined their plan to invest $14 billion to $17 billion over the next five years. Their infrastructure program, an expansion of previously disclosed plans to invest $11.5 billion to $13.2 billion over the five-year period ending in 2022, includes a proposal for a significant increase in the utility's investments in energy efficiency, as well as the first major investment in electric vehicle infrastructure.

“They have gotten a nuclear subsidy, now PSEG is going after more money to build more pipelines. PSEG says they are a green company, but they want spend more than $3 billion on natural gas and $1 billion on pipelines. That’s a lot of green for destructive pipelines. These proposed new pipelines will be cutting through environmentally sensitive areas, open space, and next to people’s homes. More pipelines mean more fracking and more natural gas power plants. PSEG is also committed to buying 20% of PennEast gas from the PennEast pipeline. PSEG may not be a partner with PennEast but they are being a partner getting feeder pipelines that will cut through New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “PSEG is building New Jersey into a pipeline state and changing us from the Crossroads of the Revolution to the crossroads of pipeline. They are full of hot air if they think we are going to pay to destroy our open space and streams for more pipelines.  We are going to fight them to protect our wallets and our environment.”  

PSEG are asking for $1 billion to build their reliability program. In early June PSE&G already won BPU approval to spend $1.9 billion to replace cast-iron and unprotected steel mains in its gas distribution system in a separate rate case. The $4 billion package includes $3 billion to be spent on natural gas.

“This is $1 billion of new money on top of the $1.9 PSEG already received to replace old gas lines. PSEG are calling it for reliability and redundancy, which is the same excuse for the Southern Reliability Link.  This $1 billion is the cost of PennEast or the cost of other smaller pipelines like Southern Reliability, South Jersey Gas, and Rivervale South Project combined. They are also going to be spending $3 billion on natural gas. This will include $2 billion for pipeline interconnects. More pipelines means more pipelines that would cut through cut through environmentally sensitive land, threaten communities, and cause more climate change impacts,” said Tittel.

PSEG’s proposed new pipelines would bring natural gas across our state and our waterways. An accident with these pipelines could contaminate our waterways and environment and put people at risk.

“More pipelines will destroy important habitat, pollute high quality streams, rivers, and cut across important C1 waterways. They could create irreversible harm to our wetlands as well as damage important open spaces, and threaten our sources of fresh drinking water,” said Tittel. “More natural gas lines create a higher demand for fracking and dirty infrastructure that will add more greenhouses gas into our air.”

More pipelines mean more powerplants like the proposed natural gas power plant in the Meadowlands. These types of plants are monsters of air pollution in New Jersey emitting heavy metals and chemicals like ammonia and nitrogen oxide. Drilling operations release toxic air emissions and methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere. Frack wastewater discharge, which is highly toxic and cannot be effectively cleaned is also a major concern.

“We will have more power plants and compressor stations like the proposed natural gas power plant in the Meadowlands and the proposed Garden State Expansion Project with PSEG’s proposal for new pipelines. The Meadowlands power plant could generate almost 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year and could be very close to being the one top greenhouse gas producer in north jersey. More pipelines will also lead to more fracking. Fracking especially threatens drinking water supplies, especially the 15 million people in the Delaware River Basin and with the pipelines through the Highlands region, 5.4 million more.” said Tittel.

Now New Jersey’s laundry list of subsidies for PSEG includes, $14-$17 billion for their clean energy proposal, $1.9 from BPU, $1.2 billion for New Jersey Strong and the $300 million annual for their nuclear subsidies. If you add up the new and old project costs, the total is $20-23 billion for PSEG projects.

“PSEG’s “clean energy” proposal would cost us over $14-17 billion over the next five years which includes $1 billion to build more pipelines and $2.5 billion for their resiliency program which is another excuse to run a new pipeline in a new area.,” said Tittel. “PSEG also want to spend $300 million on charging stations on the taxpayer’s dime when other companies can do it themselves. This is just means more subsidies for PSEG for an EV charging program. There are many stations that can be paid by the market, but PSEG wants to use subsidy money to monopolize the market. PSEG should be funding existing housing and apartment developments instead of using our money for charging station in Short Hills Mall parking lot.”

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities recently voted on a program that would enable PSEG to spend $1.9 billion to replace hundreds of miles of cast iron and steel pipes over the next five years with new gas mains. Governor Murphy recently signed the Nuclear Subsidy bill, S2313 (Sweeney)/ A3724 (McKeon), into law. This is the biggest subsidy in state history for PSEG’s nuclear plants, $300 million a year. The law requires consumers to buy 40% of electricity from nuclear power plants. There is no sunset provision, so this can go on indefinitely.  A day after Governor Murphy singed the nuclear subsidy bill into law, PSEG Power, reported its results from the PJM-BGS auction that showed it will be paid much more than last year for generating electric energy: $140 a megawatt-day. This is a 83% increase from a year earlier.

PSEG are also getting $300 million a year from the recently signed nuclear subsidy law. The law requires consumers to buy 40% of electricity. This means we’ll have to go out-of-state to get enough power to reach the 40%. What’s even worse is that PSEG is already getting $800 million in subsidies from Trump’s tax cut. PJM is also looking to give them millions in subsidies. The results of the PJM auction also prove that PSEG is does not need any more ratepayer money.”

New Jersey has already given PSEG tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for their nuclear plants, natural gas pipelines, and failed resiliency programs. They do not need any more ratepayer money.

“We’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on programs such as PSEG’s failed Energy Strong and other resiliency projects. Just like PSEG is building powerlines to nowhere, they are now building pipelines to nowhere. There is zero justification to give PSEG $1 billion to build pipelines. It’s nothing more than giving Public Service Enterprise Greed a blank check from the ratepayer that will undermine progress for renewable energy in New Jersey. If we want to get to 100% green energy by 2050 we need to focus on renewable energy such as solar and wind,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We must promote clean energy and block dirty fossil fuels from continuing to infiltrate our state. Rebuilding old and new pipelines will lead to more fracking, air pollution, and undermine our attempts for achieving our renewable energy goals. We will fight to protect our open space and clean water from dirty pipelines.”