New Jersey board re-approves pipeline for B.L. England repowering project

The New Jersey. Board of Public Utilities on Dec. 12 amended its prior Pipeline Safety and Municipal Land Use Orders that authorized South Jersey Gas Co. (SJG) to construct a proposed 21.6 mile natural gas transmission pipeline to condition its approval upon the N.J. Pinelands Commission’s issuance of a final decision finding that the pipeline is consistent with the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

This pipeline is designed to supply gas to the repowered B.L. England plant in New Jersey. The company that controls the plant intends the addition of a 447-MW combined cycle unit at the facility. 

The board entered the orders in response to the Appellate Division’s court decision regarding appeals of the board’s orders. In a decision issued on Nov. 7, 2016, the Appellate Division affirmed the board’s decisions issued in July 2015 and December 2015, but remanded the matters to the board for the entry of amended orders so that the approval of the pipeline is conditioned upon the N.J. Pinelands Commission’s entry of a final decision finding that the pipeline is consistent with the minimum standards of the CMP.

The Board approved the amended orders, which specify the board’s “approval of the pipeline and its construction is conditioned upon the issuance by the (Pinelands) Commission of a final decision finding that the pipeline is consistent with the minimum standards of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP)” and “approval of SJG’s petition under N.J.S.A. 40:55D-19 is conditioned upon the Pinelands Commission’s issuance of a final determination finding that the Pipeline meets the minimum standards of the CMP.”

The Dec. 12 board action is the fifth in a series of matters before the board concerning the proposed pipeline.

  • The board first issued an order in April 2013 approving a gas service agreement between SJG and the B.L. England facility owner, R.C. Cape May Holdings Corp.
  • In June 2013, the Board approved the route and authorized SJG to construct the proposed 21.6-mile natural gas transmission pipeline.
  • In July 2015, the board approved two amendments to its June 2013 order, adding a restriction that SJG cannot connect any new customer to that portion of the pipeline located within the Pineland’s Forest Area without first obtaining the board’s approval, and relocating a planned interconnection and regulator station site from an area within the Forest Area to a location outside the Forest Area.
  • In December 2015, the board issued an order under the Municipal Land Use Law finding that zoning, site plan review and all other municipal land use ordinances and regulations shall not apply to the project.

SJG’s proposed 21.6-mile natural gas pipeline is intended to serve the B.L. England power plant at Beesley’s Point in Upper Township and will also increase reliability of service through redundancy improvements for customers in Atlantic and Cape May Counties. The project will provide redundancy for 142,000 SJG customers, while the conversion of the power plant from coal, oil and diesel fuels to cleaner natural gas will improve the environment and maintain electric service grid reliability.

Due to environmental concerns, SJG identified six (6) alternate routes for the pipeline. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) concluded that the chosen route has the least environmental impact of the other alternate routes based upon wetlands impacts, potential adverse impacts to threatened and endangered species habitat and minimization of stream and open water crossings. DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers are the governmental agencies with the expertise concerning environmental permitting issues, and they have determined that the project and route comply with relevant standards.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.