David, (Dec 4, 2019)
I am forwarding some information we have learned about that is very concerning to Steve and me and others involved in our Middletown for Clean Energy organization. We hope you and the APP might be motivated to pursue this as an investigative report.
We in MCE have been involved for the last 2-3 years in fighting the climate crisis by working with Middletown for a commitment to 100% clean energy by 2050, with a mission of leaving a livable world for our children and grandchildren. At the same time, NJ is just finishing work on its 2019 Energy Master Plan, which has a similar objective. We have been involved in the state effort as well, as members of Sierra Club and Climate Reality.
One of our MCE members, Seth Gerchberg, is a resident of Shadow Lake Village, a 950-home condominium community in Middletown. SLV was built in the 60s as all-electric and has no gas hookups. Much of the heating and building efficiency is outdated and inefficient, and many residents complain about their very high electric bills. NJNG has recently started to lobby the SLV board to provide gas hookups and allow residents to convert to gas. Seth and some other residents ran a campaign and gathered 340 signatures opposing the fracked gas, in favor of switching to higher efficiency electric heat pumps (which he already installed), better insulation, etc., and a consideration of as much installation of solar as possible in the community. He believes the board is all-in on the NJNG proposal, for some reason, and will not even consider any other option. NJNG distributed the attached material to all SLV residents promising them up to 70% savings to convert to gas, and had planned 2 information sessions for Dec 2, which were snowed out, to be rescheduled.
We believe fracked gas is on a downward trajectory, especially after the NJ Energy Master Plan goes into effect, as well as due to market factors such as the falling price of renewable energy and almost-certain carbon pricing being adopted in the near future. To fight this, NJNG is putting forth an all-out effort to capture new gas demand before this happens. (We in MCE are also part of the NJ “moratorium” movement for no new fracked gas construction and call the Gov every Monday to demand it.)
According to their website https://natgassaves.com/calculator NJNG has pursued at least 14 similar projects in other towns: Eatontown, Freehold Twp, Howell, Manalapan, Marlboro, Tinton Falls, and Wall.
We would appreciate any insight you or your colleagues may have.
Pat Miller