News

April 17, 2017 – NJ Spotlight

Coal-Fired B.L. England Power Plant to Stay in Service Another 2 Years

February 24, 2017 – Philadelphia Business Journal

South Jersey Gas pipeline gets OK


February 20, 2017 – Asbury Park Press

Director backs approval of Pinelands pipeline


February 20, 2017 – The Gazette of Upper Township

Pinelands Commission Could Vote to Approve South Jersey Gas Pipeline Friday


February 20, 2017 – Press of Atlantic City

Cape May County Chamber Emphasizes Local Support for Power-Plant Pipeline


February 8, 2017 – Press of Atlantic City (scroll down, last letter)

Voice of the People: Pinelands Pipelines Exist, Unknown, Without Impact


February 6, 2017 – Philadelphia Inquirer (scroll down, last letter)

LETTER: South Jersey needs pipeline


February 2, 2017 – Asbury Park Press

OC freeholders refuse to take sides on pipeline issue


February 2, 2017 – Patch.com

Freeholders Will Stay Neutral In Controversial South Jersey Gas Pipeline


January 30, 2017 – The Daily Journal

LETTER: Pinelands pipeline will provide much-needed power source


January 24, 2017 – Philadelphia Inquirer

Hearing on Pinelands pipeline draws hundreds, gets heated


January 24, 2017 – ABC News

Plan to Run Pipeline Through Pinelands Gets Public Hearing


January 23, 2017 – Asbury Park Press

LETTER: Pinelands pipeline essential for southeast Jersey


January 23, 2017 – Philadelphia Inquirer

Pinelands Commission votes to go ahead with controversial pipeline hearing


January 22, 2017 – NJBIZ

Editorial: A push for natural gas pipeline in South Jersey


January 15, 2017 – Press of Atlantic City

Finding gas leaks from the road, and on foot


January 14, 2017 – Asbury Park Press

LETTER: Pinelands Commission should approve pipeline


January 13, 2017 – Cape May County Herald

Upper Resolution Backs Gas Pipeline


January 12, 2017 – Philadelphia Inquirer (scroll down, 4th letter from top)

Letters: Pipeline safe for South Jersey


January 11, 2017 – Courier-Post

LETTER: Chamber of Commerce supports Pinelands pipeline


November 7, 2016 – South Jersey Gas

Statement from Jeff DuBois, President, South Jersey Gas In Response to Court Decision on B.L. England Pipeline


December 17, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

South Jersey Gas pipeline gets final approval from BPU


December 17, 2015 – Philadelphia Inquirer

Over protests, gas pipeline in Pinelands gets key OK


October 28, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Power plant enables wind, solar


October 20, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Pipeline proponents gain edge on opponents


October 20, 2015 – NJSpotlight.com

Final hearing on Pinelands pipeline still pits ‘Greens’ against business, labor


August 14, 2015 – Philly.com

Pinelands panel’s action advances pipeline project


July 22, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Public Utilities board approves new South Jersey Gas pipeline


July 15, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

No compelling reason to reject plant’s pipeline


July 13, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Pipeline no threat to species in pines


July 1, 2015 – The Star-Ledger/NJ.com

Opinion: To best serve South Jersey, Pinelands Commission should approve B.L. England power plant renovation


June 26, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Cape chamber supports S.J. Gas pipeline project


June 8, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Pipeline would help reliability, environment


June 2, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Unions, lawmaker back proposed pipeline through Pinelands


June 2, 2015 – Cape May County Herald

Elected officials, labor and business hold press conference in support of South Jersey Gas pipeline project


June 2, 2015 – NJTV

Business leaders, unions say South Jersey pipeline would be a boon to local economy


June 2, 2015 – The Star-Ledger/NJ.com

Why 14 N.J. groups support Pinelands pipeline: reliability, jobs, environment


May 29, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Pinelands pipeline / Time to give region’s residents the cleaner power plant they need


May 21, 2015 – NJ.com

Pinelands pipeline: Gas company renews push for controversial project


May 21, 2015 – NBC10

South Jersey Gas reapplies to build Pinelands pipeline


May 21, 2015 – NJTV

South Jersey Gas tweaks pipeline application


May 21, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

South Jersey Gas reapplying to build Pinelands pipeline


May 15, 2015 – NJTV

DEP evaluates South Jersey Gas Pipeline route through Pinelands


May 15, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

DEP again says route is good for gas pipeline to B.L. England


February 27, 2015 – Cape May County Herald

We Need the Pipeline


February 25, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Upper Township officially endorses gas pipeline through the pines


January 26, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

More Voice of the People – Pipeline Needs to Be Approved


January 26, 2015 – Press of Atlantic City

Fiocchi ethics complaint / Frivolous at best


October 13, 2014 – Philadelphia Inquirer

PJM says Sierra Club wrong about plant conversion

To read the full letter from PJM, click here.


August 3, 2014 – The Press of Atlantic City

B.L. England extension / Right decision


July 15, 2014 – NJSpotlight.com – Explainer

What it Really Takes to Keep the Lights on in the Garden State


June 23, 2014 – Cape May Herald

SJ Gas Spokesman Explains Pipeline Project to County Chamber of Commerce


June 18, 2014 – Courier-Post

Letter: Pinelands need construction


June 16, 2014 – Philadelphia Inquirer

Utility Lifeline to Shore Done by the Book

June16

 


May 3, 2014 – Asbury Park Press

More blackouts possible in New Jersey’s future

The retirement of power plants could trigger more blackouts and higher electric rates for consumers


April 15, 2014 – The Star-Ledger

Cape May County pipeline fight reveals enviros’ true motives (Mulshine)


February 28, 2014 – South Jersey Times

Letter: Gas pipeline would fuel jobs for South jersey


January 8, 2014 – The Philadelphia Inquirer

South Jersey needs pipeline 


November 5, 2013 – Press of Atlantic City

B.L. England power plant / Approve pipeline

Just say the word “pipeline,” and many environmentalists immediately go ballistic. And at the moment, a proposed 22-mile South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pine Barrens is the subject of environmentalists’ wrath.

More often than not, we are on the environmentalists’ side. But they are hurting their own cause on this one – and giving credence to those who believe there is too often more passion than logic to the environmental movement.

The 24-inch pressurized natural-gas pipeline, which will run from Millville to Upper Township, will allow the B.L. England power plant in Beesleys Point to be powered with clean-burning gas instead of coal and oil. Currently, the plant is a major polluter that does not meet state and federal clean-air guidelines. Converting the plant to natural gas will cut harmful emissions dramatically. That’s a concrete environmental plus that clearly outweighs the opponents’ hypothetical and misguided concerns.

The pipeline has been approved by the state Board of Public Utilities and the state Department of Environmental Protection. The plan is now awaiting approval from the Pinelands Commission.

The commission exists to control development in the Pine Barrens – certainly a worthy goal. Opponents say the construction of the pipeline is a violation of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. But the fact is, that plan includes a mechanism for the approval of projects that satisfy a compelling public need. And this project clearly does that. The region needs the power the B.L. England plant provides, and converting it to natural gas is the best way to ensure that it operates as cleanly as possible. Furthermore, any Pinelands Commission approval will require South Jersey Gas to undertake measures to offset the pipeline’s impact; this could include permanent land protection or monetary payments.

Much of the opposition to the $90 million pipeline is the result of wishful thinking: The plant can be shut down and replaced with wind turbines and solar panels, the opponents say. The location is perfect, and the connection to the regional power grid is already there, they insist.

But no combination of wind and solar power at the site can replace the electricity that the plant produces. The wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine, so green power must always be backed up with conventional power. Natural-gas plants are the best way to provide that rapid backup, according to South Jersey Gas.

And the pipeline is not going to destroy the Pine Barrens. The line will run under and adjacent to already paved roads through Maurice River Township, Estell Manor and Upper Township. It will be subject to a host of federal and state regulations and inspection requirements.

True, we all know accidents happen, and if this were going to be an oil pipeline, we’d likely have more concerns.

But converting B.L. England to natural gas is a win for the environment, and it is unrealistic to think the plant could be replaced with sun and wind power. The Pinelands Commission should approve the project.
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January 24, 2013 – Press of Atlantic City

EDITORIAL: B.L. England conversion / A net win

The conversion of the B.L. England power plant in Upper Township from a coal-powered generating station to one fueled by natural gas will be a win for taxpayers, residents and the owners of the plant.

Ironically, it might never have happened if the recession of 2008 had not occurred.

As Press staff writer Lee Procida reported Sunday, the owners of the plant, RC Cape May Holdings, and its parent company, Rockland Capital of Houston, originally intended to upgrade filters and scrubbers at the plant and already had the permits for the job.

But the national financial crisis meant they were unable to arrange financing for the project. They began to look for other options and settled on an ambitious natural gas conversion, expected to be completed by May 2016.

B.L. England, which sits on the Great Egg Harbor Bay in Beesleys Point, is one of the largest polluters in the state. The Environmental Protection Agency says the plant emits about 604,000 tons of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other pollutants every year. The new filters would have helped some, but the plant would have continued to burn coal and oil.

Coal pollution is especially damaging. It contains arsenic and lead and is the main source of sulfur dioxide in the air, which leads to acid rain. Smog and soot from burning coal aggravate respiratory diseases.

Coal plant emissions are also blamed for more than half of all mercury pollution. Mercury is a neurotoxin that damages brain functions. It accumulates in the fish in our waterways and is one of the reasons the state Department of Environmental Protection in May issued strict cautions about eating fish from New Jersey waters.

Converting the plant to natural gas is expected to reduce pollutants by 90 percent.

It will also benefit taxpayers. A few years ago, Upper Township officials were worried the plant might close and the township and the state would lose the energy-tax money it pays, money that helps keep township property taxes low. The conversion should extend the plant’s life by 40 years.

That means preserving jobs at the plant, and adding 200 to 300 temporary construction jobs.

Converting to gas could cost $400 million, but because the new gas turbine will produce energy more efficiently, the energy can more easily to sold to the regional electrical grid. The project will also increase generating capacity from 450 to 585 megawatts. And the plant will become the largest single customer of South Jersey Gas.

The plan involves spending an estimated $91 million to run a 2-foot-wide, underground natural-gas pipeline 22 miles from Millville to Upper Township, a project not without its own environmental concerns. The preliminary route for the pipeline takes it through pinelands and wetlands areas, and there is potential for damaging rare plant species.

While it is important to make sure that doesn’t happen, people concerned about the environment should look at the big picture. Shutting down the coal units at B.L. England is a win.

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January 20, 2013 – Press of Atlantic City

How recession powered plant’s conversion to gas

– Lee Procida
A $91 million project to run a 22-mile natural gas pipeline from Millville to the B.L. England power plant in Upper Township might not have happened if the economy had not crashed in 2008.

At that time, plant owner RC Cape May Holdings and its parent company, Houston-based Rockland Capital, had the permits ready to upgrade the facility with filters to clean its coal emissions.

But then capital markets dried up as the nation dropped into a recession, and since there was already immense environmental pressure on coal, the owners started looking at other options. Eventually, they struck up a conversation with South Jersey Gas.

Those talks led to the current plan: running a 2-foot-wide gas main from the Cumberland Energy Center, a South Jersey Gas customer, to serve as a secondary supply to Cape May County and also service B.L. England so it can convert from coal and oil to natural gas.

The result is that South Jersey Gas gets a massive new customer, Rockland Capital gets to produce much more efficient energy that it can sell back to the grid more easily, and locals get even cleaner air.

This would have been the preferred solution from the beginning, but it apparently took the financial collapse to make planners realize it was possible.

“We would have done that all along,” Rockland Capital Asset Manager Bob Rapenske said.

It will be at least a year before construction starts. South Jersey Gas and Rockland Capital are still putting together applications to the state Board of Public Utilities and Department of Environmental Protection, and the permitting process will take the entire year.

The projected cost is $91 million, although that depends entirely on whether the proposed route for the pipeline is approved.

As currently imagined, it would start at the Cumberland Energy Center on the southeastern edge of Millville, owned by Houston-based energy company Calpine Corp., run southeast along Routes 49 and 50 through Maurice River Township to Upper Township, then head east on Tuckahoe Road and intersect with an Atlantic City Electric power line easement running north to Beesleys Point.

That route traverses pinelands and wetlands, so the goal is to use as much previously disturbed land as possible to limit environmental impact, said Chuck Dippo, vice president of engineering services and system integrity for South Jersey Gas.

“There are many benefits to repowering the plant with clean natural gas,” he said, “but we have to be cognizant of our local environment in the towns and municipalities we pass through in terms of where to lay the line and what we might encounter along the way.”

Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, said that even work on or around developed land can affect undeveloped land.

In the past, he said, road crews have dug up rare plants growing on shoulders, then filled in the trench with fill dirt trucked in from outside the area, from which invasive plants grow and spread into the forest.

“You can’t assume that just because something is along a road that there isn’t an environmental impact,” he said.

Montgomery said he knew of at least three rare plants along the preliminary proposed route, according to state Pinelands Commission surveys. He also said that Pinelands regulations should keep utility infrastructure such as the proposed pipe to a minimum.

Local leaders have also reached out to South Jersey Gas to get more information.

Maurice River Township Mayor Andrew Sarclette said he hoped the project could lead to getting natural gas service to people in the southernmost part of his community, where homes have only propane and oil heating.

“I do plan on investigating it further,” he said.

Rapenske said the company also needed to work with Atlantic City Electric to negotiate laying pipe through its easement. Using the railroad right-of-way that carries coal cars to the plant is also possible.

When the fully converted plant is operational, which should be by the end of 2016, B.L. England will be far more active than it is now.

The plant was built in 1963 and is one of the oldest in the state. It is not only a major air polluter but is also very inefficient. Since it is expensive to produce energy at the facility, RC Cape May Holdings is limited in what energy it can sell back to the grid.

As Rapenske explained, the company sells energy into the PJM Interconnection market at a certain rate. The organization that manages the market buys the least expensive energy from the most efficient plants first, followed by the less efficient plants, depending on demand.

Currently, B.L. England operates at far less than full capacity. Its second coal-fired unit produces most of the power, but it only runs at full capacity less than half the year, primarily during the summer, Rapenske said.

Its other coal unit is limited to two-thirds of its capacity whenever it does run, and the third unit, which is powered by oil, almost never runs. If it does, it is mainly for annual emissions testing, Rapenske said.

Converting to natural gas will boost the total capacity of the plant from 450 megawatts to 585 megawatts, and the company will be able to run the plant far more often because it will be easier to market the energy, Rapenske said.

“This gas turbine we’re putting in is one of the most advanced in the world,” Rapenske said. “It’s a very, very efficient method of operation.”


August 18, 2012 – Press of Atlantic City

B.L. England Generating Station’s plans to switch to natural gas will take plenty of time, effort and money

– Lee Procida
The conversion of Cape May County’s B.L. England Generating Station from coal and oil power to natural gas will be a massive project that is planned to take nearly four years and cost as much as $400 million.

The pale blue plant in the Beesleys Point section of Upper Township was built on the Great Egg Harbor Bay in 1963, making it one of the oldest power plants in the state, but the complete overhaul will extend its lifespan for about 40 more years.

“This is breathing new life into the plant,” said Jim Maiz, senior vice president for RC Cape May Holdings, the unit of Rockland Capital investment firm that oversees the facility.

The goal also is to allow everyone nearby to breathe easier, since natural gas burns dramatically cleaner than coal and oil. That’s something praised by even those environmentalists who have used the plant’s exhaust stack as a lightning rod for criticism.

But a lot needs to happen before B.L. England is fully repowered, and the effects of the conversion will have a wide range of impacts elsewhere.

All of this is just beginning now after RC Cape May and the state Department of Environmental Protection signed an agreement in May to address alleged federal Clean Air Act violations left over from the previous owners.

Atlantic City Electric sold the plant for a mere $12 million in 2006, but that left RC Cape May in charge of upgrading the plant. The new agreement amends several past plans to lessen the facility’s pollution output.

Based on the new plan, B.L. England has to be fully repowered by May 1, 2016.

In the meantime, one of its coal-fired units must permanently cease operating by September 2013, and its other coal unit must shut down by May 2015, to be retrofitted for natural gas. Its third oil-fired unit will be allowed to continue operating until the other remaining unit is operating with natural gas power.

Even with one fewer unit, state and company officials said, the plant’s maximum output could increase from 450 megawatts to 570 megawatts through efficiencies in its new system.

Of course, there also needs to be a way to get the new fuel to the plant. Freight trains now carry coal to the plant, but natural gas will have to be pumped through a new underground pipeline.

That aspect of the project alone will be a monumental undertaking.

South Jersey Gas is developing a way to send a 22-mile, high-pressure pipe from the Cumberland Energy Center in Millville to B.L. England. Once connected, the plant is expected to be the Folsom-based company’s largest single customer.

B.L. England may draw an amount of gas equivalent to 25,000 homes per year, or nearly 8 percent of the company’s current residential customers.

Running that line likely will take more than a year of permitting. About 15 miles of the line would run through the Pinelands; the last seven would be through sensitive wetlands areas overseen by the DEP. The state Board of Public Utilities also has to sign-off on the plan’s design.

Benefits down the line

About 75 people work at B.L. England, but the conversion will create 200 to 300 jobs during two years of construction, RC Cape May’s Maiz said.

“From an employment opportunity, it’s a great thing for not only the township but also the county,” said Upper Township Mayor Richard Palombo.

It is not clear if jobs would be lost by no longer running trains filled with coal or oil to the facility. The railroad there is owned by Conrail and its parent company, Norfolk Southern.

Those freight trains are the only railcars that regularly use the line from Winslow Township, Camden County, to Cape May County. Cape May Seashore Lines runs limited seasonal passenger service along a section of the line from Buena Vista Township to Tuckahoe in Upper Township.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon declined to comment. Conrail spokesman John Enright said no plans have been made at this early stage, but he doubted it would affect employment at the company.

At the very least, it will make the nights quieter for people who live near those train tracks.

Keeping the plant viable for decades also means that the township will continue to receive nearly $6.2 million in utility tax revenue in the form of state aid for hosting the facility. That money allowed the township to avoid a local purpose tax until last year. When it enacted the new rate, it automatically raised another $22,338 from B.L. England’s property valued at $24 million.

The ecological benefits of the project are even more impressive than the economics.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, B.L. England pumps about 604,000 tons of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the air every year.

Natural gas will dramatically reduce those pollutants. The EPA says that the average natural gas plant produces half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third of the nitrogen oxides and only 1 percent of the sulfur oxides emitted from the average coal plant.

The state and RC Cape May say the reductions at B.L. England will be even more significant when comparing its current emissions to the advanced technology that is proposed.

The latest agreement also requires the plant to preserve 150 acres of wetlands surrounding the plant, restricting it to any future development or disturbance, unless the new pipeline needs to be laid through it.

A timely solution?

While environmental advocates commend all these changes, they also demand that they be done as soon as possible and not be delayed beyond the May 1, 2016, deadline.

RC Cape May already has submitted an application for permit modification, but the company has until December 2013 to change its mind about repowering the facility.

If it decides against continuing with the plan, it must shut down its remaining coal-fired unit by May 1, 2014, leaving it with only its oil-fired unit.

If it decides to continue with the conversion but does not think it can have it completed by deadline, then it can request an extension, but it would still have to cease operating its remaining coal unit by May 1, 2015.

And even if the remaining coal unit is shut down at that point, the agreement says the move could be reversed by a state or federal mandate or decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that shutting it down would “adversely affect the transmission of electric energy, or would cause or result in an electric emergency.”

That line disturbed Bill Wolfe, director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, who said he thinks the latest agreement is just another way to extend the deadlines for cleaning up the site.

“That’s my take on this agreement,” he said. “All of (the agreements) are a series of delays.”

RC Cape May’s Maiz characterized it differently. He said the conversion would result in a much cleaner plant than had been previously designed with other coal pollution controls, and it was simply the best solution for everyone involved.

“This was the path forward,” he said. “With something this significant, you want to take the path of least resistance.”