The mayor of Jersey City, NJ, again has asked FERC to reject the expansion of its Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) and Algonquin Gas Transmission interstate pipeline systems to serve the New Jersey and New York markets with natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.
Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy called the New Jersey-New York expansion project "ill-conceived and unnecessarily risky," but Tetco General Counsel Patrick Hester said Healy's recent letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was based on "outdated information."
"The mayor's office, municipal council and the residents of Jersey City have grave concerns with the safety risks attendant with the construction of a high-pressure 30 inch [diameter] gas pipeline through the heart of Jersey City. Not only does the pipeline rest in proximity to major transportation systems such as the New Jersey Turnpike and the Holland Tunnel, as well as Tier 1 and Tier 2 critical infrastructure (designated by Homeland Security), but also through densely populated areas of the city; an incident akin to the recent pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA, would have devastating effects upon our city," Healy said.
To accommodate Jersey City, "we have made significant changes to the design and routing of the NJ-NY Project based on the comments and feedback we have received," Hester said. He further noted that officials of Spectra Energy, parent of Tetco and Algonquin Gas, met with Healy's staff on Dec. 3 to discuss the changes to the project's design and routing.
"We also discussed with the mayor's staff the millions of dollars of benefits that the project can bring to Jersey City as early as 2011," he said.
There is an added incentive in the plans by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to install additional in-state baseload generation in the form of combined cycle gas plants to increase power reliability and decrease costs.
Along 18th St. and Long Slip, Hester noted that the pipeline expansion will be installed using a horizontal directional drill (HDD), placing it 80 to 100 feet below the surface in bedrock.
"This design change addresses multiple concerns such as safety, residential and/or commercial development, traffic impacts, impacts to infrastructure and contamination. There were also concerns raised in Jersey City about the proximity of the pipeline to sensitive facilities like schools and hospitals. To address these concerns, we are proposing to install the pipe by HDD along the street where the pipeline will be at least 60 feet below the surface.
"In addition, in these areas the pipeline will be constructed at 0.750 inch wall thickness steel, far exceeding the DOT [Department of Transportation] Class 4 requirements. To address another safety concern...we are proposing to install an additional remote control mainline valve in Jersey City...We [also] have agreed to perform daily patrols of the entire 30-inch diameter pipeline from Staten Island to Jersey City," Hester said.
Healy has asked FERC to not issue a notice of Spectra Energy's application for its New Jersey-New York Expansion until after Jan. 1. Spectra Energy said it supported the request.
In contrast, the International Union of Operating Engineers (Local 15, 15A, 15B, 15C and 15D) backs the project. "I want to be on record as strongly supporting and endorsing Spectra Energy's application for its New Jersey-New York Expansion Project," wrote James T. Callahan, president and business manager of the union.
"At a time of serious unemployment and tough economic times, especially for those in the building and construction trades, this critical economic development and new energy project will create hundreds of desperately needed, well-paying local jobs," he said.
The application for the $850 million project, which was filed at FERC in late December, calls for the construction of approximately 15.5 miles of pipeline through parts of Bayonne, Jersey City and offshore Hoboken in New Jersey, as well as parts of Staten Island and Manhattan in New York (see NGI, Dec. 20, 2010). In addition, about five miles of pipeline will be replaced in Linden, NJ, and Staten Island, and some existing facilities will be modified in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The project is expected to be in service in November 2013.
A Spectra Energy spokeswoman said the expansion would provide new diversified supply, as much as 800 MMcf/d, to the region. The project is fully subscribed with commitments for firm transportation service from Chesapeake Energy Marketing Inc., Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc. and Statoil Natural Gas LLC.
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