On August 2nd and 3rd, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) hosted a Technical Conference in order to engage with stakeholders and investigate how the natural gas industry can best meet a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2006 levels by 2030. Jenn Danis gave plenary remarks on this topic during the second day of the conference. Her remarks focused on the need for holistic, long-term gas planning at the level of the state utility regulator. Without this planning, BPU will not be able to fulfill its responsibilities, which include ensuring just and reasonable rates for consumers as well as protecting gas utilities that will continue to provide crucial services for some time. In her remarks, Danis suggested that BPU take the following actions to plan for a reduction in gas consumption while honoring these responsibilities:
1. Require utilities to seek approval before signing firm transportation contracts that support new gas capacity with terms of five years or greater. During that approval process, it should also require developers to demonstrate net benefits with calculations including societal cost and genuine need.
2. Create a planning process for utilities to follow when they create their own individual plans to be revisited on a bi-annual basis. These should contain a portfolio of non-pipeline alternatives and rankings of resources and system operations that will protect against any gas supply shortfalls that could arise by 2030, including those resulting from forced outages (however unlikely those scenarios may be).
3. Define a design day predicated on objective measurable and transparent weather conditions. Standardize other drivers, inputs and assumptions, and modeling features.
4. Provide for stakeholder participation by assuring that the presumptions, data, and analyses utilities rely on in their pathways and planning analyses and prior approval requests are transparent and accessible to stakeholders who can participate as full parties in those proceedings.
5. Identify any additional regulatory support that will provide clarity about the above.