Thursday, May 24, 2018

Two new bills change the energy map for New Jersey

Governor puts signature to bill calling for half of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030

Murphy signs energy bills May 23 2018Tom Johnson reports for NJ Spotlight:
Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday signed bills to dramatically overhaul New Jersey’s energy policies while ensuring nuclear power will remain a significant part of its energy mix — albeit with a hefty new subsidy from consumers.
In a ceremony at a solar farm in Monmouth Junction, the governor’s action marked a step toward achieving his ambitious clean-energy agenda, by requiring at least half of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy by 2030. The plan also mandates utilities ramp up programs to reduce energy use.
“Today is a big leap forward,’’ Murphy told legislators, cabinet officials, and representatives of key environmental groups who gathered at the solar farm, which is still under construction. The governor also signed an executive order, directing the development of a new Energy Master Plan to have the state achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
Whether the state can deliver on that agenda and at what cost to ratepayers will likely generate as much debate and argument over the next few years as occurred during the bruising fight to get the bills through the Legislature in the past six months.
No issue was more controversial than the measure (S-2313) to direct up to $300 million a year in ratepayer subsidies to keep three nuclear power plants from closing in South Jersey. Public Service Enterprise Group threatened to shutter them, arguing they are no longer economically competitive.

In the money — or not?

Critics, including many business groups, consumer advocates, and environmental groups, countered that PSEG never demonstrated the plants are losing money. By handing out such a huge subsidy, opponents feared it would hinder efforts to reach the aggressive renewable energy targets set by Murphy.
“What we have here in New Jersey is the company admitting they are profitable —they are just not profitable enough,’’ said Ev Liebman, director of advocacy for AARP of New Jersey. If implemented, the bill could cost residents about $41 a year, and large companies, tens of thousand of dollars annually, according to opponents.

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