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Q & A with PennEast representatives

The $1 billion pipeline from Dallas Township to New Jersey proposed by PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC is designed to bring Marcellus Shale gas to customers in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The company says the project would get rid of pipeline capacity issues in New Jersey, as well as enhance reliability and improve prices.

PennEast project manager Anthony Cox and PennEast Spokeswoman Patricia Kornick answer some commonly asked questions about the project, such as whether it would benefit northeastern Pennsylvania residents and why the pipeline is going to be so big.

Q: How is the PennEast going to benefit our region?

A: Cox said there are requests for connections for gas service in the Jack Frost and Split Rock areas, and UGI has had interest from some folks in Laflin and the Old Boston section of Jenkins Township.

He said new connections have to pass the economic test: It can be expensive to put a new connection in. Utility companies, which ultimately provide gas service, have to prioritize, and there’s a long way to go before some areas get gas service, he said.

However, Cox said it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

Q: But we already get Marcellus Shale gas in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A: The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area already has Marcellus Shale gas as a result of the Auburn line, which brings natural gas from wells in Susquehanna County to UGI’s distribution system. The initial benefit to northeastern Pennsylvania has already been realized, but the PennEast is extending those benefits to the south, Cox said.

“It’s the same idea: You have to build the big stuff before you build the small stuff,” he said.

Q: Would we have lower gas prices because of PennEast?

A: “You don’t have to be buying PennEast gas to be the beneficiary of lower prices,” Cox said

He gave as an example lower gasoline prices at the pump due to supplies from South Dakota. An increase in supply in the areas that need the natural gas lowers the price for everybody, he said.

Cox also believes there will be direct benefits to consumers in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in terms of lower costs for electricity generation by natural gas-fired power plants.

Q: Why is the pipeline 36 inches in diameter? Isn’t that pretty big?

A: Because there will be a lot of gas: The pipeline’s full capacity is 1.1 billion cubic feet per day, and that’s what the people who are paying for it intend to use, Cox said.

There are two ways of making that happen, either with a smaller pipeline that uses more compressor stations or a with larger pipeline, he said. Cox pointed out that it is more efficient to move the gas through a larger pipeline, since it uses less energy than to keep compressing the gas.

Kornick said the initial plan was for a 24-inch pipeline with multiple compressor stations. Now there’s only one, in Kidder Township, Carbon County, she said.

“The bottom line is, smaller pipe is wasteful,” Cox said. He gave the analogy of drinking soda with a coffee stirrer, which means you have to work harder than if you use a fast-food restaurant straw.

Q: What about eminent domain?

A: Cox said PennEast has just begun the land acquisition process. One of the things the company works with landowners on is fair compensation for their land, as well as for any inconvenience caused by construction, such as lost crops, he said. After the pipeline is installed, the property returns to its original use, he said.

Cox said PennEast will soon sit down with them and negotiate agreements. He said PennEast has not had meetings yet with all the landowners, but that process just started: “It’s a tremendous undertaking.”

Q: Pennsylvania doesn’t tax pipelines. How would the state benefit?

A: Although the state doesn’t charge a property tax on the pipeline, there will be sales tax and income tax paid by the people who work on it, Cox said.

Pennsylvania will also benefit by the pipeline bringing in additional industry and competitive jobs, he said. He said there are short, medium and long-term benefits, which is why the project has gained the support of groups such as chambers of commerce.

“People now do not understand, when they turn on their stove or turn on the light switch, that much of that is made possible by natural gas,” Kornick said. “Cell phones, computers, everything they (pipeline opponents) use to criticize the industry, are made possible in part by natural gas,” she said, referring to electricity generation.

PennEast workers live in the communities as well, and this will be an investment in the community, Kornick said.

Q: So will local people be hired for the project?

A: Kornick said it will be a predominantly local workforce, except when there are specialty skills required.

In related news, More than 1,500 file to intervene in PennEast pipeline project.

This article was written by Elizabeth Skrapits from The Citizens’ Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.