In South Jersey, people need smart energy solutions that drive new development and sustainable economic growth — something that has been missing for far too long due to poor policy decisions in Trenton. However, Gov. Phil Murphy and his administration’s new Energy Master Plan is just another in a long line of bad policy plans.
While it is ambitious for New Jersey to try to reach a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, this plan fails to answer the primary questions all blueprints should address — how will this be implemented successfully and how much will this cost consumers, ratepayers, taxpayers and residents?
New Jersey needs a realistic and sustainable Energy Master Plan that doesn’t merely outline a political agenda but rather lays out a sound public policy platform. The state needs a pragmatic policy that balances its energy needs with efforts to reduce the state’s carbon footprint. Sound, effective and fair energy policy needs to:
Include a diverse energy portfolio.
Create a realistic transition timetable that ensures continued access to energy resources without reliance on an unproven technology becoming available too early.
Realistically address the costs of introducing new technologies without simply taxing working families and local businesses who will end up paying for the planned subsidies.
Accommodate redundancies in our energy system for emergencies when electric grids are down — hospitals, emergency facilities and even homes and businesses increasingly have relied on natural gas-fueled generators since Super Storm Sandy.
However, the new Energy Master Plan simply fails southern New Jersey at every point. The plan cuts off homes and businesses from one of the lowest-cost energy sources (natural gas), mandates conversion to electrification at astronomical costs, phases out carbon-free nuclear power, and forces the state to rely solely on technology that isn’t proven or even yet available. Fundamentally, the master plan transforms New Jersey from an energy independent state to one that depends on out-of-state energy at triple the cost.
We believe there is another way forward. One that empowers New Jersey to continue reducing its carbon footprint without pricing families and businesses out of the state — simply put, a more sustainable plan.
That is why the Affordable Energy for New Jersey coalition was created — to defend residents from being forced to adapt to an unreliable single-source energy system and burdened with the outrageously high costs inherent with such a system. That’s why we’re bringing together the voices from throughout our state — local leaders, business owners, organized labor, rural communities and city commuters — who believe that there is a sustainable and affordable energy path that will realistically address concerns about climate change.
The Garden State has been one of the leaders in emissions reduction throughout the nation — and continues to be that beacon for others to follow. It has achieved that status by ensuring that energy policies are as sustainable from an economic standpoint as they are from an environmental benefit. Unfortunately, the new Energy Master Plan for New Jersey misses that mark by a wide margin.
Ron Morano, of Bloomingdale, Passaic County, is executive director of the nonprofit Affordable Energy for New Jersey, dedicated to educating residents and businesses about realistic energy needs.