There are serious issues with PennEast’s April 2020 Answers on the FERC docket

Last week PennEast filed a series of Answers on the FERC docket to issues posted by the public.  This was during the initial comment period on the docket on their “abbreviated amended application” that defines this new Phase 1/Phase 2 approach that would build only the PA portion of the route in Phase 1, and would maybe/maybe not deliver complete Phase 2 in NJ at some undefined later date.

There were *alot* of problems with those answers.  This weekend I filed a response to that detailed all of the many, many issues with PennEast’s filings.  The link to the full response is below:

MichaelSpille-CP20-47-MotionToAnswerAndAnswer.PDF

Here is an outline of the issues that we question (the full document has far more details):

1) The Answer Mischaracterizes the Project.

PennEast actually manages to mis-describe their own project.

2) FERC has no regulatory framework that would allow a pipeline company to keep a significant portion of a Certificated project in limbo.

PennEast has literally told FERC to put a hold on Phase 2 in NJ.  That it may or may not build it.  And that the amended application only deals with Phase 1.  There is no framework within FERC or NEPA that allows a company to file for something they may or may not do.

3) PennEast’s Citations in its answer are vague and faulty.

PennEast fails to even properly cite responses in its Answer.

4) PennEast mis-characterizes the Certificate Policy Statement’s stance on affiliate agreements.

PennEast badly mischaracterizes how the Certificate Policy Statement is meant to work.

5) PennEast erroneously indicates that 52% subscription rate amounts to “most” of the capacity being fulfilled.

PennEast fails basic English language when it tries to convince FERC that half is equal to “most” of the capacity.

6) PennEast lacks any substantial proof of demand for Phase 1.

In fact, the purpose and need story for Phase 1 is bleak indeed.  PennEast cannot find any third parties at all to help them out here.

7) Phase 1 was not “designed”, it is an attempt by PennEast to hide a new, smaller project behind its existing Certificate and avoid appropriate levels of scrutiny and review.

This Phase 1, Phase 2 business is a clear ploy by PennEast to try to sneak in Phase 1 under the original Certificate Order with almost no analysis.  This ain’t “design”.

8) PennEast has a confusing and contradictory narrative around Phase 1 precedent agreements.

PennEast is stating that the new Phase 1 subscriptions have nothing to do with the original subscriptions on the original docket.  But this makes no sense, if these are all new subscriptions then the pipe is sized all wrong.

9) PennEast is playing games with precedent agreements that should give FERC serious pause as to the true public necessity of either Phase 1 or Phase 2.

PennEast really, really does not want FERC (or anyone else) to know the real deal behind these new precedent agreements.  In fact they almost scream in their Answer that FERC cannot and should not look behind any of them to see why these deals were made in the first place.  This should be a GIANT red flag to FERC.

10) PennEast is incorrect about not overbuilding in Phase 1 and needs to do alternatives analysis around a smaller pipe and alternative compressor setups that could reduce costs.

PennEast claims nothing is overbuilt, it’s all “designed”.  This is bullshit.  By PennEast’s own admissions they need to do detailed alternatives analysis on the size of the pipe and the full compressor design for each phase.

11) PennEast’s citations of much older natural gas pipelines being allowed to bifurcate by FERC in limited situations are not relevant to this proceeding.

PennEast’s citations in their Answer on ancient pipelines that have been allowed to split into phases by FERC are wrong and misleading.  Those cited pipelines did not change the purpose and need of their projects at all, and critically the owners pledged to build all the phases and defined them completely.  PennEast by way of comparison waves its hands hopping it will get to Phase 2.  Some day.  Maybe.

12) PennEast contradicts itself on the feasibility of Phase 2.

PennEast simultaneously says they will build Phase 2.  Except maybe they won’t.  They can’t have it both ways.

13) PennEast fails to acknowledge the level of eminent domain required by Phase 1 and Phase 2 of these projects.  

Nowhere does PennEast acknowledge the massive level of eminent domain they are implementing in each phase.  FERC MUST force PennEast to disclose full eminent domain takings so FERC can include this in its purpose and need weighing.

14) PennEast has left many comments unanswered

Finally, PennEast has left dozens and dozens of questions completely unanswered.  This is a travesty, and FERC must see through PennEast’s ruse and deny this ridiculous “amendment”.

Published by

Mike Spille

I'm a thinker, an analyzer, a synthesizer. Maybe not in that order. I live in West Amwell NJ with my wife Kristina, our two kids Day and Z, our two dogs Fern and Cinna, and two cats Ponce de Leon and Xavier.

4 thoughts on “There are serious issues with PennEast’s April 2020 Answers on the FERC docket

  1. Wonderful stuff, as per usual Mike. Posted it online with kudos to you, of course. What is your take about sending another comment in with a rendition of this information? Do you recommend it? I would think so, but I wanted to ask anyway….

    Like

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