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PennEast files amendment for phased construction of natural gas pipeline

PennEast Pipeline Company has filed an amendment with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct its pipeline project in two separate phases, to meet growing customer demand for natural gas.

Phase One would consist of 68 miles of 36-inch pipe, constructed entirely within the US state of Pennsylvania, with first natural gas to be delivered by November 2021. The Phase Two section would include the remaining route in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with completion expected in 2023.

“Today’s announcement is a big step forward for families and businesses in eastern Pennsylvania and the Greater Philadelphia region who will finally benefit from greater access to low-cost natural gas, by separating the certificated PennEast route into two phases,” said Anthony Cox, chair of the PennEast Pipeline Company board.

“In the years since the initial announcement of the project, demand for natural gas has continued to grow, yet the benefits of new job creation, economic development, air quality, and lower energy bills have been denied to all customers by short-sighted political interests. Building the project in phases allows PennEast to meet the clear public need in the short term in Pennsylvania, and in the long term in New Jersey by affording sufficient time for permit and legal issues to be resolved.”

The continued demand and interest from shippers encouraged PennEast to file the request with the FERC. Previous agreements for 338,000 Dth per day of gas were filed as part of Phase One and additional precedent agreement negotiations are underway for a total capacity in Phase One of approximately 600,000 Dth per day. The initial 1,107,000 Dth per day that was filed for the full project remains unchanged.

As part of the new phased approach to construction of the pipeline, PennEast will establish three delivery points within Pennsylvania: UGI Utilities (to serve the Blue Mountain Ski Resort) and new interconnections with Columbia Gas and Adelphia Gateway to serve the growing demand in the southeast region.

“PennEast has always been vital to fulfilling our plans of a new hotel and water park, which have been delayed for years without the natural gas necessary to fuel the expansion,” added Barb Green, president of Blue Mountain Resort in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. “The announcement today to complete the project in phases is a major boost for our local tourism, economic development and job creation.”

Cox continued: “Federal regulators determined in 2018 after years of expert reviews that the full PennEast Pipeline Project was in the public need and benefit, including three federal agencies and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which concluded it was also safe for the environment. Today’s action again proves the PennEast partners are fully committed to the entire project and meeting the needs of its customers for safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy.”

“Pennsylvania families and businesses shouldn’t be pawns in a political game played in another state,” noted Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. “With key approvals at the federal and state level already, a phased approach for PennEast would allow Pennsylvania businesses to finally lower their energy costs, reduce carbon emissions and continue adding to their competitive advantage over nearby states like New Jersey. Pennsylvania’s business community urges swift approval by the Commission for this phased construction plan.”

“The continued build-out of energy infrastructure across the commonwealth is the most important step in benefiting industrial, commercial, and residential consumers with affordable, abundant, and clean-burning Pennsylvania natural gas,” added David N. Taylor, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. “Maximising delivery of the most affordable energy source saves residents money to pay other bills, powers our economy, and improves Pennsylvania’s competitiveness. PennEast’s phased plan is a common-sense approach to fulfil the public need in Pennsylvania, where the project is ready to go.”

“Pipelines are lifelines,” concluded Dennis L. Martire, vice-president and Mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). “Right now, local Pennsylvania residents do not have access to these family-supporting energy jobs on PennEast, despite the fact that clean, affordable natural gas is the pathway to a renewable future. If completing the project in phases will allow hard-working Pennsylvanians to start accessing these jobs, then that’s the path we need to take.”