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ESG 2020 Annual Report

The Environment

Sustainable Business Practices

At SJI, we are passionate about taking care of the environment.

We measure our environmental impacts while making significant efforts to reduce or mitigate them. Additionally, we employ an Environmental Management System and procedures specifically designed to minimize waste and the use of hazardous materials, energy and other natural resources.

Across our organization, we adhere to a strict set of environmental principles, including:

  • Conduct operations in compliance with all applicable environmental laws, regulations and corporate policies
  • Provide sufficient resources to achieve our environmental obligations
  • Promote pollution prevention and/ or waste minimization through best management practices
  • Strive to continuously improve our environmental performance through environmental awareness training
  • Assess the effectiveness and performance of the environmental program by conducting periodic site audits
  • Work with regulatory agencies to develop scientific, fact-based environmental policies and regulations
  • Seek to further our environmental stewardship through the development of the next generation of environmentally friendly energy technologies

 

EPA’s Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program

South Jersey Gas joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program in 2016 as a founding partner. Elizabethtown Gas joined the program in 2019, after joining SJI. The program is designed to provide a transparent platform for utilities to make, track and communicate commitments to reduce methane emissions.

The STAR Methane challenge aligns with our commitment to protect our region’s environmental and natural resources. As part of our participation, South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas follow the Cast Iron and Unprotected Steel Best Management Practice. We pledge to reduce emissions by replacing a significant portion of our aging and leak-prone bare steel and cast-iron distribution mains and services with modern, medium-density plastic and protected steel mains and services to reach our goal replacement rate of at least 5% per year.

Tracking and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Our Infrastructure

As part of our efforts to reduce our environmental impact, we track the greenhouse gas emissions from our entire natural gas delivery system annually as required under applicable regulations.

Through the robust infrastructure replacement programs at South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas SJG and ETG, the combined total miles of main in our systems have increased by 16%, while CO2-equivalent emissions from these mains and associated services have been reduced by 63% since 2006 (NJ Energy Master Plan baseline year).

SJI’s infrastructure replacement programs will continue to be instrumental in our corporate emissions reduction efforts by supporting a projected decrease in CO2-equivalent emissions from our mains and services of approximately 78% by 2025 compared to 2006 while increasing the total miles of main in our system by a projected 22%.

SJI Main Replacement and CO2e Reductions from 2006-2020 and Projections for 2025

Parameter1 2006 2020 Amount Reduced 2006-2020 Percent Reduced 2025 Projected Project Amount Difference 2006-2025 PROJECTED PERCENT DIFFERENCE
SJI CO2 equivalent Emissions, metric tons 269,249 100,616 168,633 63% 59,377 209,872 78%
SJI Unprotected Steel & Cast Iron Main, Miles 2,237 360 1,877 84% 57 2,180 97%
SJI Unprotected Steel & Cast Iron Services, Number 61,666 19,863 41,803 68% 613 61,053 99%
SJI Total Main, Miles 8,812 10,209 - 16% 10,724 - 22%
SJI Total Services, Number 532,869 581,503 - - 595,370 - -

Note:Only emissions from pipeline main and service leaks are included in above data. Emissions from above grade transmission-distribution transfer stations, above and below metering-regulating stations and combustion units are not included. In addition, SJI miles of pipeline protected steel include transmission main and ETG miles of pipeline cast iron main includes ductile iron.
 

Additional Greenhouse Gas Emissions data is provided in the Sustainability Metrics section of this report developed using the American Gas Association/Edison Electric Institute template.

DISCLAIMER: The standards of measurement and performance, as well as any goals disclosed in this report, are based on various assumptions made in good faith at the time of publication and are not guarantees or promises of actual future performance and should not be construed as a characterization regarding the materiality or financial impact of that information. For a discussion of information that is material to SJI, please see our Annual Report or our Form 10-K.

Emissions Reduced from Excess Flow Valve Installation

To further support SJI’s emission reduction goals as of the end of 2020, SJI has 291,298 excess flow valves installed across our utilities, representing 50% of the total services in our pipeline system. Based on the EPA’s Natural Gas Star Program Partner Reported Opportunities for Reducing Methane Emissions, the estimated annual methane emission reductions are equal to 160 Mcf per installation of 350 Excess Flow Valves. This equates to a methane emissions reduction of 133,165 Mcf for SJI.  

Emissions Reduced during Natural Gas Blowdown Events

Beginning in 2019, SJG and ETG implemented blowdown gas recovery initiatives by shortening line segments to be blown down using pressure control fittings and/or routing gas to a lower pressure system to reduce system pressure prior to maintenance.  Using this approach, in 2020 SJI realized a 61% reduction in distribution and transmission pipeline blowdown events compared to what would have been released using older, less efficient methods.

2020 Emissions Reduced during Natural Gas Blowdown Events SJI SJG ETG
Natural Gas Volume Released during Blowdown, cf 3,363,374 3,204,292 159,082
Natural Gas Volume Recovered, cf 5,353,654 5,136,440 217,214
CO2e Emissions Reduced, metric tons/yr 2,444 2,345 99
Percent CO2e Emissions Reduced, metric tons/yr 61% 62% 58%

CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS

SJI is a leader in clean energy, energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives, allowing us to expand on the progress we’ve made, while continuing to deliver on our mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy.

Through 2020, we evaluated the potential for decarbonizing our utilities and invested in clean energy technology that reflects our commitment to sustainability. We are focused on initiatives that 1) reduce energy consumption and emissions, 2) accelerate deployment of renewable energy, 3) educate customers on maximizing energy efficiency, and 4) modernize operations through technological innovations.

South Jersey Gas continues its efforts to support the expansion of fueling station infrastructure to make the conversion to compressed natural gas possible for more businesses and vehicle fleets. Currently, South Jersey Gas supplies CNG at 13 refueling stations across southern New Jersey. Elizabethtown Gas also has a fueling station, located at its headquarters in Elizabeth, New Jersey, that is open to the public and fleet customers. Through 2020, SJI operated more than 200 CNG-fueled fleet vehicles.

South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas made significant progress in efforts intended to ultimately eliminate our consumption of natural gas at all company-owned and operated compressed natural gas (CNG) stations. We are working to displace natural gas in all company-owned and operated CNG stations with renewable natural gas (RNG) – a clean, sustainable fuel made from renewable methane. Additionally, we continue to make investments in certified responsible natural gas, which is certified based on several factors such as emissions, water sourcing, well integrity and community engagement, providing the assurance that producers upheld the highest standards of care throughout production.

In 2020, SJI took new strides toward a cleaner energy future by making investments and forming partnerships to develop several clean and renewable fuel technologies, including:

  • Acquired two fuel cell projects totaling 7.5MW as part of a new joint venture called Catamaran Renewables, in partnership with renewable energy leader Captona.
  • Acquired a minority interest in REV LNG, LLC, to begin developing renewable natural gas (RNG) projects.
  • Entered a partnership with Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind to create a pilot program to study the feasibility of producing green hydrogen in conjunction with their proposed wind farm off the New Jersey coast.

SJI is also committed to helping customers consume less energy to reduce their carbon footprints through energy efficiency programs, which we plan to expand.as noted in the energy efficiency section of this report. Starting in summer 2021, SJG and ETG will greatly expand these programs by $216 million over a three-year period. Fully subscribed, the programs could collectively save customers approximately $329 million and prevent the release of more than 950,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

Learn more about SJI’s clean energy and sustainability strategy and goals here.

Environmental Protection and Land Restoration

It is our priority to protect the environment and minimize our impact on the community and landowners.

Our engineering and construction departments plan every phase of each project from the initial design phase through final restoration. SJI selects pipeline construction routes that avoid environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, wildlife habitats and their associated buffer zones. SJI also works with the community and landowners to choose routes with the fewest impacts to property. 

It is our goal to perform project work in compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws, guidance documents  and other applicable requirements, as well as the terms of any licenses, permits and authorizations of any governmental authority or public utility.

SJI restores all disturbed land to its original condition after construction is complete. During the land disturbance, preventative measures are utilized to control sediment runoff. SJI works closely with landowners to restore each property as specified in landowner agreements. This includes initial maintenance and repair work, as well as follow-up inspections of agricultural lands. SJI also makes every reasonable effort to complete the restoration of an area, including final grading and installation of permanent erosion control structures and seeding grass in a timely fashion. 

SJI and its partners have developed an Agricultural Impact Minimization Plan (AIMP) for major pipeline construction projects to address agricultural-related issues, including restoration of agricultural land. The purpose of the plan is to outline how projects will impact landowners during construction, surface restoration and the operation of the pipeline to minimize impacts on areas available for agriculture.

Waste Minimization and Recycling Program

SJI minimizes its waste production through source reduction, effective purchasing, chemical substitution, good housekeeping and recycling when possible. SJI is proud of its recycling of asphalt, concrete, used oil, inefficient lighting lamps and blasts, contaminated soils, wood waste and more. In 2020, SJI recycled 588 tons of business-related pipeline construction and division/office location debris, which was 54% of total waste information available at the time of the report. At SJI, we manage necessary waste disposal responsibly and we schedule frequent disposal pick-ups with waste disposal contractors.

Environmental Investigation and Remediation

During the 1800s, manufactured gas was produced from materials such as coal and oil at manufactured gas plants. SJI oversees several long-inactive plants and sites owned by past or present subsidiary companies.

SJI is committed to meeting its legal obligations to ensure that these sites are properly investigated and remediated and meet all environmental standards and regulations.

As a result, in 2020 SJI has worked to meet its responsibilities with respect to 18 sites that required investigation or remediation. When remediation of these sites is complete, we often have the opportunity to improve the surrounding community and help enhance public safety by restoring any disturbed infrastructure, curbs, sidewalks, pavement and landscaped areas.  Additionally, at our remediation sites where degraded or impacted wetland areas are part of the scope of remediation, our restoration efforts allow for a “better-than-existing” approach to the restoration. We can leave behind a more ecologically diverse habitat in areas that were once degraded or monocultural with regard to the plant population.

Building an Environmentally-Friendly Workplace

As SJI continues to grow and expand, we constantly look for opportunities to minimize our environmental footprint, including in our workplaces. In 2020, we made efforts at our facilities across New Jersey to reduce our environmental footprint with measures such as:

  • All of our SJI facilities have implemented comprehensive recycling programs.
  • Our South Jersey Gas Headquarters follows the rigorous Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and processes, including the implementation of high-efficiency LED lighting with occupancy sensors, automated window shades with connectivity to the HVAC system, waterless men’s restroom facilities, air hand dryers in all restroom facilities and filtered water stations that helped reduce the waste from discarded plastic water bottles.
  • Our newly renovated Folsom office now includes motion sensor lighting controls (with high efficiency LED fixtures) and more efficient HVAC equipment.
  • Our janitorial services use green chemical products and recycled materials whenever possible.
  • The cafeteria vendor for our new South Jersey Gas Headquarters sources food products with a focus on reducing their carbon footprint.

Water Disclosure

SJI has already implemented water use reduction methods through low flow or waterless restroom facilities and filtered water stations that helped reduce the waste from discarded plastic water bottles.  Based on SJI’s current operations, water is not considered a material issue, which is the same for our utilities. Our goal at SJI is to maintain compliance with all environmental regulations and minimize any water impacts as a result of our operations. 

We are excited to be part of the solution in New Jersey's clean energy future.

Climate-related Risks and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Opportunities

As a distributor of natural gas, a fossil fuel, policy changes to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions have  the potential for impacting SJI’s operations and financial performance.

The New Jersey Energy Master Plan (EMP) and other regional climate plans call for increased electrification of residential and commercial heating and other appliances, and SJI is working towards complying with these and other policy and regulatory changes intended to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Because natural gas is a fossil fuel with low carbon content, SJI’s natural gas products may also have an important role to play in meeting demand for electricity production, and as a fuel source in homes and businesses as our customers work to meet future carbon constraints.

In 2020, SJI took a major step towards defining its pathway to responding to growing attention to greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption and established a goal of achieving carbon-neutrality by the year 2040. Through a series of environmental sustainability initiatives, SJI has developed a plan to eliminate its carbon footprint and significantly reduce the fossil fuel consumption of its 700,000+ utility customers. To achieve this goal, SJI has formed an internal Clean Energy and Sustainability team which consists of individuals across various business lines who have been tasked with creating and implementing strategies to accomplish SJI’s 2040 target. 

This plan, which was prepared for announcement in Spring 2021, sets forth benchmarks to:

  • Achieve a 70% carbon reduction of operational emissions and consumption by the year 2030
  • Achieve 100% carbon reduction by 2040
  • Commit at least 25% of annual capital expenditures to sustainability projects.

SJI plans to reach these benchmarks through infrastructure enhancements, clean energy investments, and increased energy efficiency and conservation programs.

Under a proposed five-year program, South Jersey Gas seeks to invest approximately $742.5 million to replace 825 miles of aging steel mains and install Excess Flow Valves (EFVs) on new service lines. Elizabethtown Gas is mid-way through a five-year plan, approved in 2019, to invest $300 million in replacing aging steel mains and installing EFVs. These upgrades will reduce “fugitive” methane emissions, which are responsible for the largest portion of SJI’s operational emissions. Other enhancements, such as outfitting our facilities with solar panels and converting more service vehicles to low carbon-density fuels like compressed natural gas (CNG), which in some instances is provided by renewable natural gas (RNG), will reduce SJI’s overall carbon consumption. These capital investments, focused on environmental sustainability, will help SJI deliver cleaner fuels of the future.