PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC, citing ongoing efforts to reduce effects on endangered species, wetlands and landowners from its proposed natural gas pipeline, filed more than 30 minor route modifications with FERC on Friday.
In a statement, the company said the 33 route changes will help the pipeline avoid the habitat of two federally threatened and endangered species -- specifically, the bog turtle and long-tailed salamander. PennEast also plans to deploy technologies that will help it avoid digging trenches along the pipeline's 114-mile route across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
"We are continually reviewing the PennEast Pipeline project, seeking ways to maximize benefits to the region by improving the route," said Peter Terranova, chair of the PennEast board of managers. "The route changes filed today reflect the constructive feedback received from landowners, agencies and other stakeholders and demonstrate PennEast's commitment to incorporating their input where safely and logistically feasible.
"These route modifications bring area families and businesses another step closer to receiving reduced energy costs that also will help advance the region's economy."
According to its filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [CP15-558], 26 of the 33 route changes will be in Pennsylvania: 10 in Northampton County, nine in Luzerne County and six in Carbon County. One route change will traverse both Carbon and Northampton counties. Meanwhile, there will be seven route changes in New Jersey: six in Hunterdon County and one in neighboring Mercer County.
In its statement Friday, PennEast cited four route changes. In Luzerne County, it will co-locate the pipeline with the existing Transco pipeline, and co-locate a proposed Auburn/Leidy/Transco meter station with an existing UGI Utilities meter station. Elsewhere in Luzerne, PennEast will co-locate the pipeline within an existing Pennsylvania Power & Light easement in order to avoid a quarry.
PennEast said it was also working with the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Carbon County, and would divert the pipeline to a different ski slope than the one it had originally planned to use. The new route would avoid a hang gliding area and existing underground infrastructure. The company has also been in talks with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to create a trenchless crossing of the Appalachian Trail in Carbon and Northampton counties. A 400-foot buffer zone surrounding the trail is planned.
Despite the changes, Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum told NGI's Shale Daily that she is still adamantly opposed to the project.
"This is just another attempt by PennEast to evade review, undermine the public process and to try to slide through their bad project without proper agency and public consideration," van Rossum said Friday. "They want to deny the public and the agencies the ability to fully review and respond to the devastation that is going to be inflicted if the PennEast Pipeline were built."
Van Rossum was also critical of the favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) the project received from FERC last July, and called for a new DEIS (see Shale Daily, July 22).
"This puts the last nail in the box," she said. "It's very clear that the DEIS that just went through this faux public process is not representative of the pipeline project. A new DEIS is required and an entirely new public process, one that includes proper public hearings, is absolutely necessary."
The 36-inch diameter pipeline would transport 1.11 million Dth/d of eastern Marcellus Shale gas to markets in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. About 990,000 Dth/d of that capacity is spoken for (see Shale Daily, Sept. 25, 2015). New Jersey Natural Gas Co. is the largest taker with 180,000 Dth/d. PSEG Power LLC and Texas Eastern Transmission each have 125,000 Dth/d. South Jersey Gas. Co. has 105,000 Dth/d, and Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc., Elizabethtown Gas, and UGI Energy Services LLC each have 100,000 Dth/d.
PennEast is a joint venture owned by AGL Resources Inc. unit Red Oak Enterprise Holdings Inc. (20%); New Jersey Resources' NJR Pipeline Co. (20%); South Jersey Industries' SJI Midstream LLC (20%); UGI Energy Services LLC's UGI PennEast LLC (20%); PSEG Power LLC (10%); and Spectra Energy Partners LP (10%). The partnership is managed by UGI Energy Services.