Williams TRANSCO Drops NESE Project, Gas Compressor Station

STIFF OPPOSITION – Area residents gather at a 2018 meeting to show their opposition to the proposed NESE project. (File photo.)

The company behind a $1 billion, multi-state gas pipeline proposal that would include a compressor station in the township has decided to walk away from the project.

Williams-TRANSCO told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on April 10 that it would let the current approval for the project – known as the Northeast Services Enhancement Project, or NESE – to expire next month.

Williams had already received several multi-year extensions from FERC to give it time to get needed approvals from New Jersey and New York.

The project involved laying new natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, whose residents would benefit from the enhanced capacity.

The project also entailed building a 32,000-horsepower natural-gas powered twin turbine compressor station – which would raise the gas pressure in pipelines so the gas can make it to its final destination – on a 52-acre tract in Little Rocky Hill, near Route 518.

Williams last won an extension in 2023.

“We sincerely appreciate the construction deadline extensions that the Commission has granted to date on NESE, but I wanted to let you know that Williams plans to let the NESE certificate expire in May 2024 and will not be seeking another extension,” Nick Kirkhorn, Williams’ executive branch and federal regulatory affairs director, said in a message to FERC’s Carol Clayton.

Asked why the company decided to walk away from the project, a Williams spokesperson said in an April 15 written statement that, “While Williams continues to believe in the fundamentals of the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project and its ability to provide a cleaner and more affordable alternative to costly heating oil for consumers, at this time, we have decided not to pursue an extension of the certificate.”

“Natural gas remains a critical part of our country’s energy mix, necessary to ensure reliability for more intermittent resources during periods of peak demand and to progress our nation’s climate goals,” the spokesperson wrote.

The project was opposed by activists and town governments – including Franklin’s – in three states since its inception in 2017.

Deputy Mayor Ed Potosnak, who is also executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters,s aid he was happy Williams had finally dropped the project.

“I am thrilled Williams Transco saw the light, deciding not to move forward with the unnecessary NESE pipeline project after more than seven years of saying, we don’t need NESE,” he said in a statement. “The dangerous project posed a threat to clean air, clean water, wildlife, and the health and safety of our communities.”

“We appreciate the diligence and hard work of the township councils, our partners, and community members who rallied against this project from the beginning,” Potosnak said in the statement. “The unneeded project goes against all New Jersey’s efforts to move toward a 21st Century clean energy future. We must remain vigilant and not let Williams Transco revive the dirty NESE project in any other iteration to protect our families from the pollution and poor health from dirty fossil fuels.”

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