NJ utility company upgrades pipeline to help prevent disruptions from weather and cyber threats

A South Jersey utility company cut a ribbon this month to officially introduce a $ 69 million addition to its delivery system, touted as a bulwark against disruptions caused by extreme weather and even cyber attacks .

South Jersey Gas, a utility serving 400,000 customers in the state’s most southerly counties, held a ceremony last week to unveil its new Compression Pumping Station on Franklinville Road in South Harrison, Co. Gloucester.

The facility can increase pressure in pipelines if interruptions occur in the interstate pipelines that deliver natural gas to the utility or in its pipelines to its customers.

The pumping station is commissioned a month after another pipeline brings gasoline and jet fuel through the state and the entire east coast was hit by a ransomware cyberattack that shut it down for a week , limited the supply of gasoline and increased anxiety and worry. The colonial pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast of Texas and terminates in West Deptford, Gloucester County, New Jersey.

South Jersey Gas receives no supplies from the colonial pipeline, but the attack certainly caught the attention of officials.

“If a cyber attack weakened more than one of the pipelines entering our region, we would have the ability to continue to serve our customers by increasing the pressure in other parts of our system,” Nick DiRocco, vice president of South Jersey Gas . , said NJ Advance Media. “This helps mitigate the impact of a cyber attack. “

DiRocco said supply disruptions could still occur if a cyberattack or extreme weather event occurs, such as a recent storm in Texas that shut down its power distribution grid for more than a week earlier this year. . But he said the company also has a facility in Atlantic County that can convert liquefied natural gas into a supply that can be pumped into homes for heating and to power devices such as water heaters and dryers. laundry.

“We know that energy reliability is essential for the well-being of our … residents and essential for the economic development of our state,” said MP John Burzichelli (D-3e), during the ribbon cutting.

South Jersey Gas paid for the installation without using public funds. DiRocco said the utility typically asks the state’s Utilities Board to allow it to bill customers over time for investments in infrastructure such as the pumping station. DiRocco did not immediately know how much it would cost taxpayers.

Dividing $ 69 million by 400,000 customers comes down to about $ 172 per customer. This amount can be taken over 20 years of amortization which would amount to $ 8.62 per year.

South Jersey Gas has customers in parts of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester; all Atlantic, Cumberland, Cape May and Salem counties.

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Bill Duhart can be reached at [email protected].

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