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Murphy signs clean energy bills for electric cars and solar
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Murphy signs clean energy bills for electric cars and solar

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy led a news conference on the mass shooting that killed a man, a woman, and injured 12 others at a house party Saturday night in Fairfield Township at Cumberland County Prosecutors Office Monday May 24, 2021. Edward Lea Staff Photographer / Press of Atlantic City

SEASIDE HEIGHTS — New Jersey’s governor signed a package of bills Friday aimed at moving the state closer to its goal of generating 100% of its power from clean sources by 2050.

The measures make it easier to develop some solar energy projects, and to locate and build electric vehicle charging stations.

But still waiting for action by the Democratic governor is another bill that would remove most local control from where and how offshore wind energy projects come ashore. Gov. Phil Murphy did not mention that bill at a signing ceremony in Seaside Heights in a municipal parking lot across the street from a popular water park.

“From wind turbine component manufacturing to solar to electric vehicles, we are well on our way to putting New Jersey back to its rightful place as a national leader” in clean energy, Murphy said.

One measure makes it easier to locate electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state, eliminating the need to go before planning or zoning boards to get them approved.

Pam Frank, CEO of ChargEVC-NJ, an electric vehicle advocacy coalition, said charging stations are crucial to the growth of the electric vehicle industry. Four new charging stations were recently installed in the parking lot where Friday’s news conference was held.

“Most New Jersey drivers will not even consider an electric vehicle until they can see charging infrastructure out and around,” she said.

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A similar bill signed by the governor encourages development of zero-emission vehicle fueling and charging infrastructure in redevelopment projects.

Murphy also signed two measures dealing with solar power projects. One allows so-called “dual use” solar projects located on unpreserved farm land that is still also used for agricultural purposes.

Another bill would create a successor to a solar power program in the process of being discontinued by the state.

Joseph Fiordaliso, president of the state Board of Public Utilities, said New Jersey has more than 142,000 solar power installations statewide.

After the news conference, Murphy said nothing should be read into the fact that he did not sign the offshore wind energy bill Friday.

“I wouldn’t say that (not signing the bill) today gives any indication at all,” Murphy said, adding his policy is not to comment on pending legislation until he acts on it.

Aside from granting local communities a public hearing on an offshore project that comes ashore in their town, the bill would strip those communities and their elected officials of most if not all control over where and how the project’s power lines and associated infrastructure are installed onshore.

It does require that power lines run underground in most cases, but sets up a mechanism where the state BPU can approve a project if local authorities delay or obstruct it.

Some shore communities, including Ocean City, have vocally opposed the bill.

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