Change of plans: South Jersey Industries is reinventing itself for a world of clean energy.  CEO Rina explains how - ROI-NJ.com

Change of plans: South Jersey Industries is reinventing itself for a world of clean energy. CEO Rina explains how – ROI-NJ.com

Finding a foothold in conversations about renewable energy as a tool that works largely in the field of fossil fuels is not easy.

But south jersey industries He managed to make it look the way it is.

It takes little encouragement, SJI’s CEO, Mike Rina, to speak your ear about the natural gas facility’s place in the clean energy goals New Jersey leaders have set in their efforts to combat climate change.

“We’ve really created a niche over the past 18 to 24 months in repositioning SJI as a clean energy infrastructure company,” he said. “It was a truly transformative event for us here, as we realized that the region, the country and the nation had ambitious goals to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.”

The headquarters of South Jersey Industries.

The utilities announced last year that they have their own plans along the same lines: to achieve carbon-neutral operations by 2040. They want to be 70% of the way there by 2030.

Its plan to achieve this is to eliminate its carbon footprint while reducing the fossil fuel consumption of more than 700,000 natural gas utility customers in South Jersey Gas And the Elizabethtown Gas.

Still a natural gas company. But Rina believes it can “deliver decarbonized energy for the future”.

That starts with significant investments in replacing aging infrastructure, the kind that is prone to emissions leaks, with safer materials, he said. The organization replaces iron pipes and coated steel pipes with high quality plastic materials.

The main advantage of this new infrastructure is its ability to deliver “green hydrogen” blended into the natural gas grid, reducing conventional gas emissions.

“We have made investments in and out of our facilities to produce this low-carbon energy…including construction already underway on eight farms, with six more farms starting later in 2022, which adds to our renewable energy portfolio,” said Rina.

The idea is that the facility can take cow dung, put it into a process where it’s digested and processed into methane components, and then blend that renewable source of energy into the gas systems.

“Ultimately, this renewable natural gas will replace organic natural gas,” he said. “This is one of the most immediate ways that we are actually part of this acceleration towards clean energy. And you can do that with any major source of methane, including farms with pigs and poultry, landfills and wastewater treatment plants.”

SJI is already investing in landfill projects that allow it to collect methane to replace regular natural gas emissions. Methane from these sites may escape into the atmosphere as the waste decomposes.

Meanwhile, RINA would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the facility is building a pilot project in South Jersey where intermittent electricity from a solar facility is used to power hydrogen generation. This “green hydrogen” is then injected into the gas grid.

Rina is excited about the long-term prospects of these projects. The tool scales down efforts with internal investments in building more sustainability into its day-to-day operations in New Jersey.

“We are at the forefront of this, particularly among gas utilities,” Rina said. “And I’m really proud of the way we’re leading the way.”

Decarbonized gas has not fueled every New Jersey home — far from it. But SJI is looking to present “enough decarbonized natural gas to offset the casino’s base load in Atlantic City,” Rina said. So, this is not an easy matter.

Such projects are capital intensive. But the benefit appears to be in store for some new funding after it was grabbed earlier this year in an $8.1 billion deal with the Global Investment Vehicle Infrastructure Investment Fund.

For the facilities, which will remain a New Jersey-based organization with an independent board of directors, it will be business as usual — and more.

“This is definitely a big win for us, as the best possible outcome for our shareholders…but it’s also the best result of the reorganization at SJI with how we are making new investments with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) in Reina said.


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