Thursday, May 24, 2018

PSEG wins a big one as Murphy signs subsidy bill into law

By Frank Brill
EnviroPolitics Editor

Ending the will-he-sign or won't-he-sign speculation, NJ Governor Phil Murphy today showed no hesitation in putting his signature on the controversial bill (S-2313) that gives PSEG Nuclear a public subsidy of up to $300 million a year.

The enactment came at a public ceremony held at a solar farm site in Monmouth Junction.

According to a news release from the Governor's Office, the new law "establishes a Zero Emissions Certificate (ZEC) program to maintain New Jersey's nuclear energy supply, which contributes close to 40 percent of the State's electric capacity and is by far New Jersey's largest source of carbon free energy. Plants seeking to participate in the program would be required, among other things, to demonstrate that they make a significant contribution to New Jersey air quality and that they are at risk of closure within three years.

"The new law gives the Board of Public Utilities broad latitude to engage outside experts to analyze nuclear power plant financial information and applications, and to adjust ZEC payments as necessary to meet a plant's actual financial need. A plant seeking to participate in the program would be required to certify that it is not receiving funding from any other federal, regional, or state source that would negate the need for the ZEC. Employees at plants participating in the ZEC program would further be protected from layoffs for reasons other than underperformance or misconduct." 

While the governor, Senate and Assembly sponsors, South Jersey legislators, PSEG corporate officers, employees and labor officials all appeared to be thrilled by the outcome, many others were not, including business groups like the NJ Business and Industry Association, the Chemistry Council of New Jersey and a number of environmental organizations.

NJTV News Correspondent Brenda Flanagan has details in the video above. See related news coverage at bottom of this post.

At the event, Murphy also signed a far-less controversial energy bill, A3723, that takes several steps to improve and expand New Jersey's renewable energy programs, including a Renewable Energy Standard that requires 21 percent of the energy sold in the state be from Class I renewable energy sources by 2020; 35 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030.

The legislation also makes changes to the state's energy programs by codifying New Jersey's goal of 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030; requiring each utility to implement energy efficiency measures to reduce electricity usage by 2 percent and natural gas usage by 0.75 percent; setting up a community solar energy program to allow all state residents to benefit from solar energy, and codifying the state's goal of achieving 600 MW of energy storage by 2021 and 2,000 MW by 2030.

Murphy also signed Executive Order 28 directing state agencies to develop an updated Energy Master Plan (EMP) that provides a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

Related News Stories:
Clean Sweep for PSEG: gas pipelines, nuclear subsidies, renewable energy
New Jersey OKs $300M Annually to Rescue Nuclear Industry
Sierra Club: Murphy Sells Out: Signs PSEG Nuclear Subsidy 
Just what the PSEG 'subsidy' bill needs, more controversy 
Donald Trump wants the PSEG Nuclear subsidy bill vetoed 
Opinion: Why should NJ families subsidize nukes in PA?
Jersey electric customers may help pay Pennsy’s bills 
PSEG to pay $39M to PJM grid for bidding violations

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