The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) today approved the acquisition of two gas utilities owned by South Jersey Industries (SJI) — South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas — by the Infrastructure Investment Fund (IIF), a JP Morgan-backed investment firm. The BPU approved the transaction via a settlement agreement between SJI, IIF, BPU Staff, the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund and other parties. As part of the settlement, the gas utilities have committed to undertake programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance transparency and accountability.
“The settlement contains beneficial commitments from South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas that will help to increase transparency and reduce unnecessary investments in natural gas infrastructure, but more progress is needed to achieve New Jersey’s climate goals.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities must institute a transparent, long-term gas system planning process to reduce reliance on natural gas and ensure that utilities are operating in a way that is consistent with New Jersey’s climate and environmental goals.”
- Erin Murphy, Senior Attorney, Energy Markets & Utility Regulation
The SJI/IIF merger stipulation contains the following commitments that will:
- Develop a Non-Pipeline Alternatives program by which the utilities will assess building electrification, energy efficiency, and other options alongside traditional gas investments to meet demand
- Create transparency around the scale of gas system expansion and the costs of continuing to expand the gas pipeline system
- Implement a process to address gas leak inequities through analysis and remediation of gas leaks in overburdened communities
- Improve transparency through comprehensive annual greenhouse gas emissions reporting by the utilities
- Demonstrate the importance of developing a careful review process regarding biomethane (RNG) and hydrogen investments by gas utilities, to ensure that such projects are consistent with state climate goals and not harmful to overburdened communities
- Ensure consideration of state climate policy in any future Infrastructure Investment Program proposals by the utilities
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