PennEast gets 2-year extension for pipeline construction

Brian Pedersen//February 24, 2020

PennEast gets 2-year extension for pipeline construction

Brian Pedersen//February 24, 2020

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a two-year extension for PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC of Wyomissing to finish construction of a natural gas pipeline between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The federal agency, which must approve pipeline projects, granted the extension last week.

PennEast requested an extension of Jan. 19, 2022 to finish construction, according to the FERC docket.

On Dec. 30, 2019, PennEast requested a two-year extension of the certificate order’s deadline to complete construction because the company was not able to secure all approvals and permits necessary to allow it to start construction.

In the docket, FERC said PennEast had not received the federal permits needed for FERC staff to authorize it to start construction of the project in either state.

PennEast plans to build the pipeline in two phases. The first part of the $1 billion project would be ready to deliver natural gas by November 2021 and end in Bethlehem Township, Northampton County. The second includes the remaining route in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a targeted completion date of 2023. PennEast introduced plans to build the pipeline nearly six years ago.

The company also petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court last week to review a September decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that blocked the use of eminent domain for project. The company is asking the court to review the eminent domain decision, said PennEast spokeswoman Patricia Kornick, in a statement.

According to the petition, PennEast argued that The Natural Gas Act authorizes a private gas company to use the federal government’s power of eminent domain to secure necessary rights-of-way on any state-owned property for the construction of an interstate pipeline if FERC grants the company a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the project.

“The Third Circuit Court’s decision impacts the nation’s economy and energy-delivery infrastructure far beyond this specific project,” Kornick said. “If left standing, the Third Circuit’s decision has the potential to increase energy costs to consumers, impede manufacturing and industrial projects, reduce high-paying labor jobs, and deprive mineral rights owners of their ability to realize their property rights.”

However, some environmental groups and affected property owners have opposed the project from the beginning.

“PennEast tried for six years to meet its deadlines and couldn’t do it,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director of Energy, Climate & Natural Resources for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

“With significant legal and regulatory hurdles continuing, it is doubtful they will ever get the necessary approvals to build their unneeded, dangerous pipeline.”