Library filed under Energy Policy from New Jersey
Lawmakers have already reintroduced a slew of clean-energy bills, expecting them to have a better reception now that Christie’s out and Murphy’s in
Eighty percent of all electricity sold in New Jersey would have to come from renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power if a bill that cleared a Senate committee Monday becomes law. The measure mandates that starting with 11 percent by 2017, the percentage of renewable energy increases 10 percent every five years until it reaches 80 percent.
“These companies aren’t lightweights, but they don’t want to just throw money away,” said Henry King, a Princeton-based lawyer who represents companies that develop renewable power. “Nobody is going to move forward with a proposal without these OREC rules in place.” A BPU spokesman recently said it remains unclear when the rule will be finalized.
The state Board of Public Utilities held firm the past couple of years in its rejection of a proposed Fishermen's Energy wind project off Atlantic City. The state should do the same regarding a federal push for wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean. ...If federal officials have a convincing argument that wind energy is so valuable for environmental reasons that customers and/or taxpayers should pay more for it, let them make that case to the nation and have all Americans pay for it.
New Jersey released its revised Energy Master Plan on Friday, which calls for greater energy resiliency and puts less faith in offshore wind.
Here's why his leadership on this issue is so critical. The EPA's new rules mandate that New Jersey cut carbon emissions 26 percent by 2030. The only way to achieve such dramatic reductions over such a relatively short period of time is to shutter many of our traditional power sources that provide affordable and dependable energy.
BPU spokesman Greg Reinert said the agency is working with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and providing input on the lease sale. "This administration continues to support the development of sustainable, clean offshore wind energy production in a manner that is economically sound and that protects our ratepayers from exposure," Reinert said.
But while the bill has bipartisan sponsorship — It's sponsored by state Sens. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset) — it's unlikely to be law any time soon. Supporters and sponsors admit that if it makes it as far as Gov. Chris Christie's desk, they expect him to veto it.
New Jersey has been trying to extricate itself from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative since 2011, when Christie first suspended participation in the program. But his administration had to restart the separation process this year after the state Superior Court ruled that it had provided insufficient opportunity for public participation.
A proposal scheduled for publication Monday in the state register would repeal rules associated with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program New Jersey joined other states in implementing in late 2005. Christie announced in 2011 that he would withdraw the state from the program, which the Republican governor said had been ineffective.
The three-year effort by a coalition to build the country's first offshore wind farm in waters off Atlantic City appears dead in the water after the state Board of Public Utilities rejected the proposal today. The unanimous decision by the BPU followed a recommendation by its staff, which said the $188 million proposed project was not financially viable because it left ratepayers on the hook for too much money if expected federal grants did not materialize.
That tab, according to BPU staff, could be about $187 million if outside financing falls through. Staff members have argued in board documents that because federal grants are not certain, the project would pose technical and economic risks as proposed. A spokesman at the BPU said this does not mean staff members there oppose the project outright, as has been reported by other news outlets.
"Although establishing responsible wind energy generation on farmland is an important goal, this bill is too broad and may have the unintended consequence of undermining (the program) by opening preserved farms to large, utility-scale development," the veto message reads.
The bills essentially target farms located only in Cumberland and Salem counties, because those are the only two counties in the state that meet the low population-density threshold as outlined in the bills. The laws do not apply to farms in coastal areas or regions governed by Pinelands and Highlands legislation.
It also voted to require New Jersey to obtain 30 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020 - a standard Gov. Christie three months ago called unrealistic and dropped back to 22.5 percent in his energy master plan. Lobbyists and advocates jammed the third-floor hearing room of the Senate Environmental and Energy Committee to testify.
But opponents say the programs hurt the economy when power plants pass the cost of buying emissions on to customers. They say emissions are dropping not because of cap-and-trade programs but because of the economic downturn and the reduced cost of natural gas, a cleaner source of energy.
Christie's 141-page blueprint calls for reconsideration of other energy programs, including solar power, which New Jersey has been a national leader in promoting. At the news conference, the governor said the administration wanted to decrease the percentage of renewable sources in its portfolio to 22.5 percent because the 30 percent required was not achievable.
"RGGI is nothing more than a tax on electricity, a tax on our residents and on businesses with no discernible effect on our environment," he said. "We remain completely committed to make the environment of our state and world better. We're not going to do it by participating in gimmicky programs that don't work."
"RGGI drives up energy costs for consumers at a time when nobody can afford any additional taxes," Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington), who recently signed on to legislation to repeal the initiative, said in a statement.
"It is likely that one blade failed, and the imbalance created gyroscopic forces that broke the other two," Jones said. That is small comfort to those considering wind turbines. ...But with so many projects on hold and so much at stake, these flaws need to be addressed quickly - before someone is decapitated.