Power plant won’t repower with natural gas, casting pipeline plan in doubt

A controversial South Jersey Gas pipeline project’s future has been thrown into question.

The owner and operator of the B.L. England coal-fired plant in Cape May County says it has withdrawn its plan to repower the facility with natural gas, meaning it would no longer need the 22-mile-long pipeline to feed it.

An attorney for RC Cape May Holdings, which owns the power plant plant in Upper Township, sent a letter Wednesday asking to be removed from a lawsuit against the Pinelands Commission over its approval of the pipeline in 2017. While not a plaintiff in the case, RC Cape May Holdings had a vested interest in the pipeline’s approval until deciding to not repower the plant.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who represents the Pinelands Commission, has also asked for the case’s postponement.

South Jersey Gas contends the project isn’t dead and maintains residents need the pipeline to serve as a backup source of natural gas.

But Grewal says this change undermines the basis for the pipeline’s approval by the Pinelands Commission.

Environmentalists have argued the pipeline would damage protected Pinelands forest areas and promote fossil fuels over renewable energy such as wind or solar power.

The case is being litigated in the appellate division of state Superior Court.