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News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

WALL, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, New Jersey Resources (NYSE:NJR) reported results for the second quarter of fiscal 2017 as New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG), NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV) and NJR Midstream drove the company’s financial performance. Key highlights in the second fiscal quarter include: “We delivered strong second-quarter results driven by higher utility base rates, overall customer growth and solid contributions from our clean energy and midstream assets,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “Based on our year-to-date performance, we expect to meet our net financial earnings guidance of $1.65 to $1.75 per share for the year.” Net income for the second quarter of fiscal 2017 totaled $114.7 million, or $1.33 per share, compared with $73.4 million, or $.85 per share, during the same period last year. Fiscal 2017 year-to-date net income totaled $149.6 million, or $1.74 per share, compared with $123.6 million, or $1.44 per share, during the same period in fiscal 2016. Second-quarter fiscal 2017 NFE totaled $104.1 million, or $1.21 per share, compared with $77.9 million, or $.91 per share, during the same period last year. Fiscal 2017 year-to-date NFE totaled $144.5 million, or $1.68 per share, compared with $129.2 million, or $1.51 per share, during the same period in fiscal 2016. A reconciliation of net income to NFE for the second quarter of fiscal years 2017 and 2016 is provided below. NFE is a financial measure not calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) of the United States as it excludes all unrealized, and certain realized, gains and losses associated with derivative instruments, net of applicable tax adjustments. For further discussion of this financial measure, please see the explanation below under “Non-GAAP Financial Information.” A table detailing NFE for the three and six months ended March 31 of fiscal years 2017 and 2016 is provided below. NJR reaffirmed fiscal 2017 NFE guidance of $1.65 to $1.75 per share, subject to the risks and uncertainties identified below under “Forward-Looking Statements.” NJR expects its regulated businesses to generate between 60 to 75 percent of total NFE, with NJNG continuing to be the largest contributor. The following chart represents NJR’s current expected contributions from its subsidiaries for fiscal 2017: In providing fiscal 2017 NFE guidance, management is aware there could be differences between reported GAAP earnings and NFE due to matters such as, but not limited to, the positions of our energy-related derivatives. Management is not able to reasonably estimate the aggregate impact of these items on reported earnings and, therefore, is not able to provide a reconciliation to the corresponding GAAP equivalent for its operating earnings guidance without unreasonable efforts. NJNG, the company’s regulated utility, reported second-quarter fiscal 2017 NFE of $60.2 million, compared with $49 million during the same period in fiscal 2016. Fiscal 2017 year-to-date NFE at NJNG were $90.6 million, compared with $79.9 million during the same period last year. This strong performance was driven primarily by higher base rates and utility gross margin from new customer additions. NJNG expects to finish fiscal 2017 near the midpoint of its guidance range, representing year-over-year NFE growth of 10 to 15 percent. During the first six months of fiscal 2017, NJNG added 4,130 new customers, compared with 3,655 during the same period of fiscal 2016. NJNG expects to add approximately 9,000 new and conversion customers in fiscal 2017, up from the 8,300 previously reported. The increase is due to Superstorm Sandy-affected customers, who are expected to have service reconnected within this fiscal year. NJNG expects new and conversion customers to contribute approximately $5.2 million annually to utility gross margin. NJNG expects to invest approximately $100 million to $110 million to add a total of 26,000 to 28,000 new customers through fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2019, representing an annual new customer growth rate of approximately 1.7 percent and a cumulative increase in utility gross margin of approximately $15.6 million. For more information on utility gross margin, please see “Non-GAAP Financial Information” below. In the first six months of fiscal 2017, NJNG’s gross margin-sharing BGSS incentive programs contributed $6.7 million to utility gross margin, compared with $8.3 million during the same period in fiscal 2016. The lower results reflect a decrease in the value of capacity and lower volumes associated with the capacity release program, compared with the previous year. NJNG continually invests significant capital in its system to ensure safe, reliable and resilient service. Below are key project updates. Southern Reliability Link (SRL) will provide a second interstate pipeline feed into NJNG's service territory strengthening its overall system. On February 24, 2017, the SRL received approval of its New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection permits. Additionally, NJNG is working to obtain easements and road opening permits and the New Jersey Pinelands Commission is scheduling a vote on the certificate of filing. Once approved, the construction process will begin. NJNG expects the SRL to be in service in fiscal 2018. New Jersey Reinvestment in System Enhancement (NJ RISE) Program is a five-year, $102.5 million investment to enhance system resiliency and improve NJNG service disruption response. Since the inception of NJ RISE in 2014, NJNG has invested $20 million in the program. On April 26, 2017, NJNG completed the installation of a secondary feed from Rumson into Sea Bright. The next major project to be completed is the reconstruction of the Ship Bottom Regulator Station on Long Beach Island, which is expected to be operational in June 2017. The remaining four projects are scheduled for completion during fiscal 2019. Safety Acceleration and Facilities Enhancement (SAFE) Program II is a five-year program designed to replace the remaining 276 miles of unprotected steel main and associated services in NJNG's distribution system. During the first six months of fiscal 2017, NJNG invested $15.3 million in SAFE II to replace 31 miles of unprotected steel main. As part of this program, NJNG will earn an Allowance for Funds Used During Construction (AFUDC) rate on its invested capital during construction, and will request recovery for the approved $157.5 million of SAFE II spending in annual filings. As a condition of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approval, NJNG is required to file a base rate case no later than November 2019. Both the NJ RISE and SAFE II programs are eligible for annual base rate increases. On March 31, 2017, NJNG filed its annual petition with the BPU requesting a base rate change in the amount of $4.3 million for the recovery of NJ RISE and SAFE II capital costs through June 30, 2017, pursuant to the BPU order dated September 23, 2016. The filing will be updated to reflect actual results in July 2017, with changes to base rates effective October 1, 2017. In the first six months of fiscal 2017, SAVEGREEN, NJNG’s energy-efficiency program, invested $6.9 million in grants and financing options to help customers make upgrading to high-efficiency natural gas equipment more affordable. The program runs through December 31, 2018 and supports New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan. Over the life of the program, NJNG has approval to invest nearly $220 million in SAVEGREEN and is authorized to earn an overall return on its investments, ranging from 6.69 to 7.76 percent, with a return on equity (ROE) that ranges from 9.75 to 10.3 percent. The recovery period varies from two to 10 years, depending on the type of investment. NJRCEV, the unregulated clean energy subsidiary of NJR, reported NFE of $22.7 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 compared with $11.8 million during the same period in fiscal 2016. Fiscal 2017 year-to-date NFE totaled $25.6 million, compared with $19.5 million during the same period last year. The results for the quarter reflect increased margin from operating assets, as well as increased tax credits. Nearly all of the solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) sales in fiscal 2017 from NJRCEV’s in-service solar facilities are hedged and fiscal 2017 revenue from SREC sales is expected to be approximately 15 to 20 percent higher than fiscal 2016. A further discussion of tax credits and NJR’s effective tax rate is provided below. NJRCEV’s residential solar program, The Sunlight Advantage®, added 688 residential customers during the first six months of fiscal 2017, totaling 6.3 megawatts (MWs) of capacity, compared with 291 customers and 2.5 MWs of capacity added during the same period in fiscal 2016. NJRCEV has four commercial solar projects under construction in New Jersey, representing a $56 million investment with a combined installed capacity of 24.1 MWs. Solar-related capital expenditures for investment tax credit (ITC)-eligible projects during fiscal 2017 are expected to be between $97 million and $110 million, compared with $85.6 million ITC-eligible projects during fiscal 2016. NJR Energy Services (NJRES), NJR’s wholesale energy services provider, reported second-quarter fiscal 2017 NFE of $15.7 million, compared with $17 million during the same period in fiscal 2016. Fiscal 2017 year-to-date NFE were $19.2 million, compared with $27.3 million during the same period last year. NJRES’ results reflect the variability and timing of market opportunities related to certain storage and transportation assets from year to year. We remain confident NJRES will contribute between 5 and 15 percent of total NFE in fiscal 2017. NJR Midstream, the company’s natural gas midstream asset segment, reported NFE of $4.9 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017, compared with $2.2 million during the same period in fiscal 2016. NJR Midstream reported fiscal 2017 year-to-date NFE of $7.3 million, compared with $4.6 million during the same period last year. These increased results were due primarily to net financial earnings from AFUDC associated with our investment in the PennEast Pipeline project. The PennEast Pipeline Project received its Final Environmental Impact Statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on April 7, 2017. The 90-day Federal Authorization Decision Deadline is July 7, 2017. PennEast estimates the pipeline will be in service by the first quarter of fiscal 2019. NJR Home Services (NJRHS), the company’s unregulated retail and appliance service subsidiary, reported a net financial loss of $1.7 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017, compared with a net financial loss of $2.1 million during the same period last year. NJRHS reported a fiscal 2017 year-to-date loss of $2.5 million, compared with a loss of $2.5 million during the same period in fiscal 2016. Net financial losses are typical for NJRHS during the first six months of the fiscal year due to the timing of service contract revenue recognition. Commercial Realty and Resources (CR&R), the commercial real estate subsidiary of NJR, includes undeveloped land, as well as energy-related assets that were formerly part of NJR Energy. In the first six months of fiscal 2017, CR&R recorded net gains of $3.2 million from the sale of available-for-sale securities and $1.1 million associated with the sale of a property. Fiscal 2017 year-to-date NFE for NJRHS and Other Operations were $2.3 million, compared with a net financial loss of $1.8 million during the same period in fiscal 2016. NJR’s effective tax rate is significantly impacted by the amount of tax credits that are forecasted to be earned during the fiscal year. GAAP requires NJR to estimate its annual effective tax rate and use this rate to calculate its year-to-date tax provision. Based on projects completed in the second quarter, NJRCEV’s forecast of projects to be completed for the balance of the fiscal year and related ITCs, as well as projected GAAP pre-tax income for the year, NJR’s estimated annual effective tax rate is 15.6 percent, compared with 17.7 percent during the same period last year. Accordingly, $29.8 million related to tax credits, net of deferred taxes, were recognized during the first six months of fiscal 2017, compared with $21.9 million, net of deferred taxes, in the same period last year. For NFE purposes, the effective tax rate for fiscal 2017 is estimated at 12.7 percent and $39.8 million of tax credits were recognized during the first six months of fiscal 2017, compared with a 16.6 percent tax rate and $24.5 million of tax credits during the same period last year. For a further discussion of this tax adjustment and reconciliation to the most comparable GAAP measure, please see the explanation below under “Non-GAAP Financial Information.” The estimated effective tax rate is based on information and assumptions that are subject to change, and may have a material impact on quarterly and annual NFE. Factors considered by management in estimating completion of projects during the fiscal year include, but are not limited to, board of directors’ approval, regulatory approval, execution of various contracts including power purchase agreements, construction logistics, permitting and interconnection completion. See the “Forward-Looking Statements” section of this news release for further information regarding the inherent risks associated with solar and wind investments. NJR will host a live webcast to discuss its financial results today at 10 a.m. EST. A few minutes prior to the webcast, go to njresources.com and select “Investor Relations,” then scroll down to the “Events & Presentations” section and click on the webcast link. This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. New Jersey Resources (NJR or the Company) cautions readers that the assumptions forming the basis for forward-looking statements include many factors that are beyond NJR’s ability to control or estimate precisely, such as estimates of future market conditions and the behavior of other market participants. Words such as “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “projects,” “may,” “will,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “should” and similar expressions may identify forward-looking statements and such forward-looking statements are made based upon management’s current expectations, assumptions and beliefs as of this date concerning future developments and their potential effect upon NJR. There can be no assurance that future developments will be in accordance with management’s expectations, assumptions and beliefs or that the effect of future developments on NJR will be those anticipated by management. Forward-looking statements in this release include, but are not limited to, certain statements regarding NJR’s NFE guidance for fiscal 2017, forecasted contribution of business segments to fiscal 2017 NFE, future NJNG customer growth, future NJNG capital expenditures and infrastructure investments, NJRCEV’s onshore wind and solar investments, SREC sales, the results of future base rate cases, earnings growth, as well as the PennEast Pipeline project. The factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from NJR’s expectations include, but are not limited to, weather and economic conditions; demographic changes in NJR’s service territory and their effect on NJR’s customer growth; volatility of natural gas and other commodity prices and their impact on NJNG customer usage, NJNG’s BGSS incentive programs, NJRES operations and on our risk management efforts; changes in rating agency requirements and/or credit ratings and their effect on availability and cost of capital to our Company; the impact of volatility in the credit markets on our access to capital; the ability to comply with debt covenants; the impact to the asset values and resulting higher costs and funding obligations of our pension and post-employment benefit plans as a result of potential downturns in the financial markets, lower discount rates, revised actuarial assumptions or impacts associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; accounting effects and other risks associated with hedging activities and use of derivatives contracts; commercial and wholesale credit risks, including the availability of creditworthy customers and counterparties, and liquidity in the wholesale energy trading market; the ability to obtain governmental and regulatory approvals and land use rights such as those necessary for the PennEast Pipeline project, electric grid connection (in the case of clean energy projects) and/or financing for the construction, development and operation of our unregulated energy investments and NJNG’s infrastructure projects in a timely manner; risks associated with the management of our joint ventures and partnerships, and investment in a master limited partnership; risks associated with our investments in clean energy projects, including the availability of regulatory and tax incentives, the availability of viable projects, our eligibility for ITCs and Production Tax Credits (PTCs), the future market for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) and electricity prices, and operational risks related to projects in service; timing of qualifying for ITCs and PTCs due to delays or failures to complete planned solar and wind energy projects and the resulting effect on our effective tax rate and earnings; the level and rate at which NJNG’s costs and expenses are incurred and the extent to which they are allowed to be recovered from customers through the regulatory process, including through future base rate case filings; access to adequate supplies of natural gas and dependence on third-party storage and transportation facilities for natural gas supply; operating risks incidental to handling, storing, transporting and providing customers with natural gas; risks related to our employee workforce; the regulatory and pricing policies of federal and state regulatory agencies; the costs of compliance with present and future environmental laws, including potential climate change-related legislation; the impact of a disallowance of recovery of environmental-related expenditures and other regulatory changes; environmental-related and other litigation and other uncertainties; risks related to cyber-attack or failure of information technology systems; and the impact of natural disasters, terrorist activities and other extreme events on our operations and customers. The aforementioned factors are detailed in the “Risk Factors” sections of our Form 10-K that we filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on November 22, 2016, which is available on the SEC’s website at sec.gov. Information included in this release is representative as of today only, and while NJR periodically reassesses material trends and uncertainties affecting NJR’s results of operations and financial condition in connection with its preparation of management’s discussion and analysis of results of operations and financial condition contained in its Quarterly and Annual Reports filed with the SEC, NJR does not, by including this statement, assume any obligation to review or revise any particular forward-looking statement referenced herein in light of future events. This news release includes the non-GAAP financial measures NFE (losses), financial margin and utility gross margin. A reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable financial measures calculated and reported in accordance with GAAP can be found below. As an indicator of NJR’s operating performance, these measures should not be considered an alternative to, or more meaningful than, net income or operating revenues as determined in accordance with GAAP. This information has been provided pursuant to the requirements of SEC Regulation G. NFE (losses) and financial margin exclude unrealized gains or losses on derivative instruments related to the company’s unregulated subsidiaries and certain realized gains and losses on derivative instruments related to natural gas that has been placed into storage at NJRES, net of applicable tax adjustments as described below. Volatility associated with the change in value of these financial instruments and physical commodity contracts is reported on the income statement in the current period. In order to manage its business, NJR views its results without the impacts of the unrealized gains and losses, and certain realized gains and losses, caused by changes in value of these financial instruments and physical commodity contracts prior to the completion of the planned transaction because it shows changes in value currently instead of when the planned transaction ultimately is settled. An annual estimated effective tax rate is calculated for NFE purposes and any necessary quarterly tax adjustment is applied to NJRCEV, as such adjustment is related to tax credits generated by NJRCEV. NJNG’s utility gross margin represents the results of revenues less natural gas costs, sales, expenses and other taxes and regulatory rider expenses, which are key components of NJR’s operations that move in relation to each other. Natural gas costs, sales, expenses and other taxes and regulatory rider expenses are passed through to customers and, therefore, have no effect on gross margin. Management uses these non-GAAP financial measures as supplemental measures to other GAAP results to provide a more complete understanding of NJR’s performance. Management believes these non-GAAP financial measures are more reflective of NJR’s business model, provide transparency to investors and enable period-to-period comparability of financial performance. A reconciliation of all non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable financial measures calculated and reported in accordance with GAAP, can be found below. For a full discussion of NJR’s non-GAAP financial measures, please see NJR’s 2016 Form 10-K, Item 7. New Jersey Resources (NYSE:NJR) is a Fortune 1000 company that, through its subsidiaries, provides safe and reliable natural gas and clean energy services, including transportation, distribution, asset management and home services. NJR is composed of five primary businesses: NJR and its more than 1,000 employees are committed to helping customers save energy and money by promoting conservation and encouraging efficiency through Conserve to Preserve® and initiatives such as The SAVEGREEN Project® and The Sunlight Advantage®. For more information about NJR: Download our free NJR investor relations app for iPad, iPhone and Android.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Opponents of a proposed natural gas line that would run through New Jersey's federally protected Pinelands reserve gather outside a hotel in Cherry Hill N.J., Friday Feb. 24, 2017 before a Pinelands Commission meeting at which the proposal was to be voted on. The pipeline has become one of the most hotly contested jobs vs. environment clashes in recent New Jersey history. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry) CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey environmental regulators on Friday approved a hotly contested plan to run a natural gas pipeline through a federally protected forest preserve amid raucous protests that included drums, tambourines and choruses of "This Land Is Your Land." The 15-member New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted to approve a plan by South Jersey Gas to run the pipeline through the federally protected Pinelands preserve, where development is drastically restricted. The protesters' loud ruckus drowned out the members, even as they voted nine in favor and five against, with one abstention. It was the most emotionally charged jobs-vs-environment clash in recent New Jersey history, and was closely watched by environmental and energy groups around the nation, particularly with a new presidential administration seen as more supportive of the energy industry. "As a priest, I will pray for you when you stand before the throne of God and you are asked to give an accounting of your stewardship of this special ecological area," said Rev. David Stump, a Catholic priest from Jersey City. "May God have mercy on your souls." "Your legacy is disgraceful!" added Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. The company said the vote "recognizes the energy reliability challenges facing southern New Jersey and the balanced solution this project offers. The careful construction of this pipeline will address the energy demands of 142,000 customers in Cape May and Atlantic counties, protect and create jobs, and provide a meaningful opportunity to significantly reduce air emissions." The B.L. England power plant, where the pipeline would end, currently burns coal and oil to generate electricity. "The use of natural gas and state-of-the-art emissions control technology, together, can turn the facility into a cleaner and more efficient generator of electricity for the people of south Jersey," RC Cape May Holdings, the plant's owners, said in a statement after the vote. Protesters repeatedly disrupted the meeting, chanting "No! No! No!" for nearly 10 minutes when the commission was about to vote. They burst into song in protest whenever a commissioner voted in favor of the plan. After the plan was approved, they chanted, "Shame on you!" and "See you in court!" Pipeline supporters including construction workers, though greatly outnumbered, chanted "USA! USA!" Tittel said his and other environmental groups plan to challenge the approval in court on numerous procedural and factual grounds, hoping to delay it long enough for New Jersey's next governor to appoint Pinelands commissioners that will reverse the decision. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's successor will be elected in November. The 22-mile pipeline plan was narrowly defeated in 2014. But since then, Christie has replaced several Pinelands commissioners with supporters of the pipeline. Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, called the vote "a symptom of what's going on nationally" regarding pipeline projects. South Jersey Gas plans to run the pipeline mostly under or alongside existing roads. The company says it already operates over 1,400 miles of gas mains and 133 miles of elevated pressure lines within the Pinelands without harming the environment. After the proposal was defeated in 2014, the executive director of the Pinelands Commission unilaterally decided that it met the agency's criteria and was therefore approved. Environmentalists sued, and a court ordered the commission to take a new vote. Environmental groups fear the pipeline will harm the fragile Pinelands and set a bad precedent for future development. They say it will cause a loss of habitat and increase runoff and erosion in an area that is home to an aquifer that is estimated to hold 17 trillion gallons of some of the nation's purest water. South Jersey Gas maintains that in addition to providing a cleaner fuel source to the power plant, the new pipeline would provide a second transmission vehicle for natural gas to customers in the two southern New Jersey counties. Currently, only one pipeline takes gas to nearly 29,000 homes and businesses, which could be left out in the cold without a second way of getting gas to their homes if the existing pipeline fails.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

(AP) — New Jersey environmental regulators on Friday approved a hotly contested plan to run a natural gas pipeline through a federally protected forest preserve amid raucous protests that included drums, tambourines and choruses of "This Land Is Your Land." The 15-member New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted 9-6 to approve a plan by South Jersey Gas to run the pipeline through the federally protected Pinelands preserve, where development is drastically restricted. The protesters' loud ruckus drowned out the members, even as they voted. It was the most emotionally charged jobs-vs-environment clash in recent New Jersey history, and was closely watched by environmental and energy groups around the nation, particularly with a new presidential administration seen as more supportive of the energy industry. "What you just did was despicable," environmentalist Bill Wolfe told the commission. "I'm gonna use George Bush and say people who voted for this pipeline are evildoers." "Your legacy is disgraceful!" added Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. The company said the vote "recognizes the energy reliability challenges facing southern New Jersey and the balanced solution this project offers. The careful construction of this pipeline will address the energy demands of 142,000 customers in Cape May and Atlantic counties, protect and create jobs, and provide a meaningful opportunity to significantly reduce air emissions." Protesters repeatedly disrupted the meeting, chanting "No! No! No!" for nearly 10 minutes when the commission was about to vote. They burst into song when a commissioner voted in favor of the plan. After the plan was approved, they chanted, "Shame on you!" and "See you in court!" Tittel said his and other environmental groups plan to challenge the approval in court on numerous procedural and factual grounds, hoping to delay it long enough for New Jersey's next governor to appoint Pinelands commissioners that will reverse the decision. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's successor will be elected in November. Supporters say the pipeline will increase energy reliability, while environmentalists fear damage to the pristine Pinelands region. The plan was narrowly defeated in 2014. But since then, Christie has replaced several Pinelands commissioners with supporters of the pipeline. Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, called the vote "a symptom of what's going on nationally" regarding pipeline projects. South Jersey Gas plans to run the pipeline mostly under or alongside existing roads from Maurice River Township in Cumberland County to the B.L. England power plant in Upper Township. The company says it already operates over 1,400 miles of gas mains and 133 miles of elevated pressure lines within the Pinelands without harming the environment. After the proposal was defeated in 2014, the executive director of the Pinelands Commission unilaterally decided that it met the agency's criteria and was therefore approved. Environmentalists sued, and a court ordered the commission to take a new vote. Environmental groups fear the pipeline will harm the fragile Pinelands and set a bad precedent for future development. They say it will cause a loss of some habitat and increase runoff and erosion in an area that is home to an aquifer that is estimated to hold 17 trillion gallons of some of the nation's purest water. Four former state governors — two Republicans and two Democrats — also have opposed the pipeline, citing their desire to protect a vulnerable natural resource. South Jersey Gas maintains that in addition to providing a cleaner fuel source to the power plant, the new pipeline would provide a second transmission vehicle for natural gas to thousands of customers in Atlantic and Cape May counties. Currently, there is only one pipeline that takes gas to nearly 29,000 homes and businesses, which could be left out in the cold without a second way of getting gas to their homes if the existing pipeline fails.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

(AP) — New Jersey environmental regulators on Friday approved a hotly contested plan to run a natural gas pipeline through a federally protected forest preserve amid raucous protests that included drums, tambourines and choruses of "This Land Is Your Land." The 15-member New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted to approve a plan by South Jersey Gas to run the pipeline through the federally protected Pinelands preserve, where development is drastically restricted. The protesters' loud ruckus drowned out the members, even as they voted nine in favor and five against, with one abstention. It was the most emotionally charged jobs-vs-environment clash in recent New Jersey history, and was closely watched by environmental and energy groups around the nation, particularly with a new presidential administration seen as more supportive of the energy industry. "As a priest, I will pray for you when you stand before the throne of God and you are asked to give an accounting of your stewardship of this special ecological area," said Rev. David Stump, a Catholic priest from Jersey City. "May God have mercy on your souls." "Your legacy is disgraceful!" added Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. The company said the vote "recognizes the energy reliability challenges facing southern New Jersey and the balanced solution this project offers. The careful construction of this pipeline will address the energy demands of 142,000 customers in Cape May and Atlantic counties, protect and create jobs, and provide a meaningful opportunity to significantly reduce air emissions." The B.L. England power plant, where the pipeline would end, currently burns coal and oil to generate electricity. "The use of natural gas and state-of-the-art emissions control technology, together, can turn the facility into a cleaner and more efficient generator of electricity for the people of south Jersey," RC Cape May Holdings, the plant's owners, said in a statement after the vote. Protesters repeatedly disrupted the meeting, chanting "No! No! No!" for nearly 10 minutes when the commission was about to vote. They burst into song in protest whenever a commissioner voted in favor of the plan. After the plan was approved, they chanted, "Shame on you!" and "See you in court!" Pipeline supporters including construction workers, though greatly outnumbered, chanted "USA! USA!" Tittel said his and other environmental groups plan to challenge the approval in court on numerous procedural and factual grounds, hoping to delay it long enough for New Jersey's next governor to appoint Pinelands commissioners that will reverse the decision. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's successor will be elected in November. The 22-mile pipeline plan was narrowly defeated in 2014. But since then, Christie has replaced several Pinelands commissioners with supporters of the pipeline. Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, called the vote "a symptom of what's going on nationally" regarding pipeline projects. South Jersey Gas plans to run the pipeline mostly under or alongside existing roads. The company says it already operates over 1,400 miles of gas mains and 133 miles of elevated pressure lines within the Pinelands without harming the environment. After the proposal was defeated in 2014, the executive director of the Pinelands Commission unilaterally decided that it met the agency's criteria and was therefore approved. Environmentalists sued, and a court ordered the commission to take a new vote. Environmental groups fear the pipeline will harm the fragile Pinelands and set a bad precedent for future development. They say it will cause a loss of habitat and increase runoff and erosion in an area that is home to an aquifer that is estimated to hold 17 trillion gallons of some of the nation's purest water. South Jersey Gas maintains that in addition to providing a cleaner fuel source to the power plant, the new pipeline would provide a second transmission vehicle for natural gas to customers in the two southern New Jersey counties. Currently, only one pipeline takes gas to nearly 29,000 homes and businesses, which could be left out in the cold without a second way of getting gas to their homes if the existing pipeline fails.


Bunnell J.F.,New Jersey Pinelands Commission | Ciraolo J.L.,New Jersey Pinelands Commission
Wetlands Ecology and Management | Year: 2010

Wetland hydroperiod is a key factor for the reproductive success of pond-breeding amphibians. Ground-water withdrawals may cause intermittent ponds to dry prematurely, potentially affecting amphibian development. In three intermittent ponds, we monitored hydrology and tracked oviposition, larval development, and metamorphosis for three frog species that represented a range of breeding phenologies. The three species were the southern leopard frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus), spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), and Pine Barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii). We simulated ground-water withdrawals by subtracting from 5 to 50 cm (in 5-cm increments) from the measured water-depth values at the ponds over a short-term (2-year) period and a long-term (10-year) period to estimate the potential impact of hydroperiod alterations on frog development. Short-term simulations indicated that 5 and 10 cm water-depth reductions would have resulted in little or no impact to hydroperiod or larval development and metamorphosis of any of the species. Noticeable impacts were estimated to occur for reductions ≥15 cm. Long-term simulations showed that impacts to the appearance of the first pre-metamorphs and metamorphs would have occurred at reductions ≥10 cm and impacts to initial egg deposition would have occurred at reductions ≥20 cm. For all simulations, successively greater reductions would have caused increasing impacts that varied by species and pond, with the 50-cm reductions shortening hydroperiods enough to practically eliminate the possibility of larval development and metamorphosis for all three species. Compared to the spring peeper and southern leopard frog, the estimated impacts of the simulations on the various life stages were the greatest for the Pine Barrens treefrog. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Baker R.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Reilly T.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Lopez A.,Bayer Risse Engineering Inc. | Romanok K.,U.S. Geological Survey | Wengrowski E.W.,New Jersey Pinelands Commission
Waste Management | Year: 2015

A screening tool for quantifying levels of concern for contaminants detected in monitoring wells on or near landfills to down-gradient receptors (streams, wetlands and residential lots) was developed and evaluated. The tool uses Quick Domenico Multi-scenario (QDM), a spreadsheet implementation of Domenico-based solute transport, to estimate concentrations of contaminants reaching receptors under steady-state conditions from a constant-strength source. Unlike most other available Domenico-based model applications, QDM calculates the time for down-gradient contaminant concentrations to approach steady state and appropriate dispersivity values, and allows for up to fifty simulations on a single spreadsheet. Sensitivity of QDM solutions to critical model parameters was quantified. The screening tool uses QDM results to categorize landfills as having high, moderate and low levels of concern, based on contaminant concentrations reaching receptors relative to regulatory concentrations.The application of this tool was demonstrated by assessing levels of concern (as defined by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission) for thirty closed, uncapped landfills in the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, using historic water-quality data from monitoring wells on and near landfills and hydraulic parameters from regional flow models. Twelve of these landfills are categorized as having high levels of concern, indicating a need for further assessment. This tool is not a replacement for conventional numerically-based transport model or other available Domenico-based applications, but is suitable for quickly assessing the level of concern posed by a landfill or other contaminant point source before expensive and lengthy monitoring or remediation measures are taken. In addition to quantifying the level of concern using historic groundwater-monitoring data, the tool allows for archiving model scenarios and adding refinements as new data become available. © 2015.


Laidig K.J.,New Jersey Pinelands Commission
Ecohydrology | Year: 2012

Groundwater withdrawals in a shallow unconfined aquifer can reduce water levels in connected wetlands and lead to changes in vegetation. I simulated the effect of withdrawals on the vegetation of intermittent ponds in the New Jersey Pinelands by first characterising the vegetation communities and associated hydrologic regimes of 15 ponds. A model, which was based on these results, was used in conjunction with simulated water-level drawdowns to predict changes in plant communities. Five dominant vegetation communities found at the study ponds included Carex striata, Chamaedaphne calyculata, and Vaccinium corymbosum patch types and aquatic-herbaceous and wetland-herbaceous types, which represent combinations of other vegetation types. A vegetation-hydrology model related mean vegetation cover for the five patch types to water level in 5-cm classes. Groundwater withdrawals were simulated by reducing pond-water depth by 5-cm intervals, and the resulting changes in modelled vegetation were assessed. Aquatic-herbaceous and wetland-herbaceous patch types displayed reductions in area beginning at the smallest simulated drawdowns evaluated. C. striata patch area changed only slightly for drawdowns ≤10cm, but decreased steadily in response to greater drawdowns. C. calyculata and V. corymbosum patch areas increased for water-level reductions ≤15cm and then decreased at drawdowns ≥20cm. The area of combined pond-vegetation types, which represents the entire pond as a single vegetation community, consistently decreased at reductions of ≥10cm. These simulations suggest that groundwater withdrawals favour the expansion of woody species into intermittent ponds, with eventual replacement of pond vegetation by adjacent forest vegetation if extreme hydrologic modifications occur. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


PubMed | U.S. Geological Survey, Bayer Risse Engineering Inc. and New Jersey Pinelands Commission
Type: | Journal: Waste management (New York, N.Y.) | Year: 2015

A screening tool for quantifying levels of concern for contaminants detected in monitoring wells on or near landfills to down-gradient receptors (streams, wetlands and residential lots) was developed and evaluated. The tool uses Quick Domenico Multi-scenario (QDM), a spreadsheet implementation of Domenico-based solute transport, to estimate concentrations of contaminants reaching receptors under steady-state conditions from a constant-strength source. Unlike most other available Domenico-based model applications, QDM calculates the time for down-gradient contaminant concentrations to approach steady state and appropriate dispersivity values, and allows for up to fifty simulations on a single spreadsheet. Sensitivity of QDM solutions to critical model parameters was quantified. The screening tool uses QDM results to categorize landfills as having high, moderate and low levels of concern, based on contaminant concentrations reaching receptors relative to regulatory concentrations. The application of this tool was demonstrated by assessing levels of concern (as defined by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission) for thirty closed, uncapped landfills in the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, using historic water-quality data from monitoring wells on and near landfills and hydraulic parameters from regional flow models. Twelve of these landfills are categorized as having high levels of concern, indicating a need for further assessment. This tool is not a replacement for conventional numerically-based transport model or other available Domenico-based applications, but is suitable for quickly assessing the level of concern posed by a landfill or other contaminant point source before expensive and lengthy monitoring or remediation measures are taken. In addition to quantifying the level of concern using historic groundwater-monitoring data, the tool allows for archiving model scenarios and adding refinements as new data become available.

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