Michael in Pennington has a very in-depth submission to the ferc.gov. What he (and everyone else) is wondering about is: who will this benefit again exactly? Not vague assurances and statistics, but actual quantifiable results?
Ill perceived benefits
As I write, the the Penn East Pipeline Company is seeking approval from FERC to place a pipeline through our community. I have attended meetings and listened to presentations by their representatives who continue to tow the party line that the pipeline will be beneficial to the community because of the savings for the cost of gas and for the creation of new jobs.
Meanwhile, there are neighborhoods in the community through which the proposed pipeline would traverse that does not even have gas service. The gas distribution company in the area- PSE&G- which is also a member of the Penn East Pipeline Company conglomerate admittedly has no plans for service upgrades to serve the residents of those communities. Additionally, there is no specificity and no commitment for a set reduction in or delivery price for gas. The savings are neither quantifiable nor do they appear to be better than the rates that will be offered to communities that will not be impacted by the pipeline. In other types of government subsidized or enabled projects there are incentives to businesses and concessions made by those businesses that provide direct, quantified benefit to the citizens. One such example would be tax credits that are given to real estate developers for providing low or middle income housing. In these models there is a precise quantifiable benefit to private corporations and also a quantifiable benefit or value to citizens. The FERC model of review and grant of eminent domain to private entities does not even come close to quantifying a benefit to citizens. This is extremely problematic and disconcerting considering there is a taking of resources from ordinary citizens and licensing them to private businesses.
I have the same trouble with the PennEast assertions that this is good for our area. There are assertions that the pipeline will have enough capacity to service “4.7 million homes” in the area. This is a nonsense statistic. According to the U.S. census bureau there are only 3,186,418 households in the entire state of NJ and 4,958,427 in all of PA. Does PennEast really expect us to believe this one pipeline is going to power the equivalent of 57% of all the households in the two states?
Of course not all households are served by natural gas, and households aren’t the only consumers.
So let’s go to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s page and see what actual energy use in PA and NJ is:
These graphs show the monthly usage breakdown for each in millions of cubic feet. Unfortunately they only do states, not regions, so we can only get the entire state breakdown. For reference the PennEast pipeline will deliver one billion cubic feet a day, so divide the table’s numbers by 30 (avg days in a month) to see how they compare to PennEast’s production.
NJ’s peak usage across all categories was 1.6 billion cubic feet a day.
PA’s peak usage across all categories was 2.9 billion cubic feet a day.
For a total of 4.5 billion cubic feet a day.
This mean’s the PennEast pipeline has enough natural gas flowing through it to supply more than 20% of both states natural gas needs combined.
Now shrink those numbers down to “Eastern PA and central NJ”, as PenNEast claims they’ll be helping, and this number climbs in excess of 100% of the total natural gas usage in the region.
Do you still believe PennEast is going to be using this natural gas in just our region? Or do you suspect – as I and many people do – that PennEast is going to send this to a Liquid conversion plant for shipping overseas (where gas is much more expensive)?
Michael’s full comments are available here