New Data Suggest COVID-19 Is Shifting the Burden of Energy Costs to Households

The global reach of COVID-19 is impacting almost everybody, and New York City is squarely at the epicenter. The metropolis is largely shut down, and while some have left the city, most residents remain, sheltering in place under a statewide order that went into effect on March 22. Excepting essential workers, almost everyone else is home nearly 24-7, conducting work, schooling and everything else in life—all from the confines of a New York City apartment.

Through a study that began in 2018 and is continuing today to observe electricity consumption across some 400 New York City apartments, we have been able to quantify how apartment-level electricity consumption has changed after the stay-at-home order. While the New York Independent System Operator reported that the city’s total electricity usage was 2 to 18 percent below normal for the week ending April 3, we have actually seen substantial increases in consumption for the residential sector.

Overall, weekday electricity use in apartments increased by 7 percent after the stay-at-home order, while weekend use increased by 4 percent. Total New York City electricity use still decreased for the same periods simply because nonresidential sectors such as office buildings and businesses use a larger portion of the city’s total electricity.

During the Monday-to-Friday 9am-to-5pm window, when most household members would normally be at work, at school or engaging in other activities outside the home, increases were even larger: We see a 23 percent increase in average apartment-level electricity consumption during those times. This additional daytime consumption, which normally would be met by employers or institutions, has now been shifted to individuals. For the many New Yorkers already suffering from the economic consequences of the crisis, any increase in monthly energy bills will only make matters worse.

Electricity use averaged across the nearly 300 apartments in our study that were occupied both before and after the March 22 stay-at-home order. The black lines depict use for the week Monday March 2 to Sunday March 8 (pre- stay-at-home) while the red lines depict use for the week Monday March 30 to Sunday April 5 (post- stay-at-home). We illustrate both weekday (Mon-Fri; left) and weekend (Sat-Sun; right) trends.

We also see shifts in load during the weekday morning hours. The pre- stay-at-home morning ramp-up in residential load — which started about 6am and peaked at 7:30am, and then declined — no longer occurs. Instead, stay-at-home behavior shows a softer ramp-up that starts at 6am, reaches the level of the pre-stay-at-home morning peak at 9am, then continues to rise throughout the morning and early afternoon. This load shift for weekday mornings also shows up in the overall city-level consumption pattern observed by NYISO. And it mirrors observations made by others that morning residential weekday electricity usage now looks more like the weekend.

Heating in most New York City apartments is provided by central building-level systems. Therefore, our study does not capture any additional heating-related increases in energy usage where people live in individual houses. And, it should be noted that if the stay-at-home order extends beyond the current May 15 deadline into the hotter months, the additional electricity needed to cool apartments with window air-conditioners or fans will only increase the burden of energy costs on households. Additional daytime summer cooling loads could result in afternoon peak loads that are higher and more sustained in ways that might adversely impact the stability of the grid.

There is no reason to expect that the changes we are observing in New York City are not occurring in other U.S. regions, or elsewhere in the world. Furthermore, in places where energy loads are primarily residential, and there is not a proportional reduction in nonresidential load, we would expect to see total energy demands increasing — along with higher risk for disruptions to existing energy supply and distribution systems.

Energy systems are the backbone of most economies. They are also essential to medical care, scientific research, manufacturing and other crucial activities needed to battle the pandemic. A better understanding of how energy usage is shifting between sectors may help prevent disruptions to these systems. Such understanding can also highlight how shifts in usage between sectors may further deepen the financial inequities created by the economic crisis that is accompanying this pandemic.

Statement from AENJ Executive Director, Ron Morano, on NJTransit/FTA Record of Decision on NJTransit Resiliency Power Plant

(Ewing, NJ)- Ron Morano, Executive Director of Affordable Energy for New Jersey, released the following statement about yesterday’s “Combined Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision” from New Jersey Transit and the Federal Transportation Authority on building a resiliency power plant in the Meadowlands for New Jersey Transit.

“Time and again, affordable and reliable natural gas has been the solution to New Jersey’s ever-changing energy needs. The Affordable Energy for New Jersey coalition applauds New Jersey Transit and the Federal Transportation Authority — whose statement of decision yesterday is another step forward to real resiliency for NJTransit and its ridership. This wasn’t a decision they took lightly; they looked at options such as wind and solar, and none met the test. In the end, natural gas won the day because it’s the smart and prudent way to power New Jersey.”


A Message from Affordable Energy for New Jersey Executive Director Ron Morano

Dear Friends,

I hope you all are safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. Together, we can and will beat the COVID-19 pandemic, because as a state, we’re unified in this fight. We will continue our sheltering at home and social distancing until we beat this virus.

With the closing of all non-essential businesses and unemployment at an all-time high, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents and businesses are suffering financially. That is why it is all the more critical that when we’re on the other side of this, we fight against overburdening our families financially.

The Affordable Energy for New Jersey coalition, with the help of all of you, is bringing together the voices of our state from all corners who believe that the new Energy Master Plan is not a realistic and sustainable path to greening our environment and our economy. Together, we are working to address critical flaws in the new Plan and to defend New Jersey residents and small businesses from being burdened with high energy costs.

We are grateful for your support and leadership during this troubling time. Over the coming weeks, you’ll hear more from us about the importance of affordable and reliable energy for all New Jerseyans.

Thank you and stay safe.

Ron Morano
Executive Director
Affordable Energy for New Jersey

An Update from Affordable Energy for NJ

It is no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on both the health and economic security of New Jersey residents. Millions of dollars are being diverted to fund health care initiatives, non-essential businesses are forced to close doors, and unemployment numbers are at an all time high.

While we’ve never faced a crisis quite like this, New Jerseyans have seen their fair share of struggles over the years, and each time has come back stronger than ever.Continue reading

Energy plan favors Murphy agenda over sound policy, and South Jersey loses

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:

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New Jersey’s unrealistic energy master plan jeopardizes our future | Opinon

As a coastal community on the Eastern Seaboard, few other states in the nation have the same vested interest in solutions to climate change than New Jersey. That is why we anticipated the state to release a new energy master plan that would be both challenging in its proposals and aggressive in its timelines. Yet, unfortunately, the plan appears to be based more on a public relations agenda than sound, realistic public policy.

Essentially, the plan seeks to fully convert the state’s energy generation and consumption to 100% “renewable” sources by 2050 — primarily defining renewable as electric energy only, generated through wind and solar sources. In tandem, the state would phase out all other sources of energy, including clean, affordable, and reliable natural gas.

The plan, however, glazes over several key concerns. One is that the new energy sources are still in the conceptual phase. Another is that the state seeks to phase out all other energy sources on a timetable that appears faster than the new sources may materialize. And, not the least of concerns, is the extremely high cost to consumers through the required retrofit of all homes and businesses, as well as the astronomical price of electricity compared to other resources.Continue reading

Unbalanced alternative energy subsidies will hurt NJ consumers | Robinson

Gov. Phil Murphy is shown just before signing an executive order to increase New Jersey's offshore wind-generated electricity from 3,500 megawatts by 2030 to 7,500 megawatts by 2035. New Jersey plans to have 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050. Tuesday, November 19, 2019All reasonable New Jerseyans, including Gov. Murphy, understand that the state must do everything it can to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In that light, the governor’s recently proposed energy plan has the right aim. A requirement, for example, for builders to take into account the impact of climate change, including rising sea levels, is a well-intentioned way to limit harmful emissions.

But as the old adage admonishes, we should measure twice before cutting. That’s because there are realities that every plan must take into account, especially when it comes to protecting energy consumers, advancing job creation, and ensuring a fair and competitive marketplace. As a former vice president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, I understand exactly how important those considerations are when it comes to ensuring a bright future for New Jersey.

Today, the people of New Jersey depend on natural gas to provide both electrical reliability and cost savings. Natural gas provides nearly a quarter of the state’s power and heats three quarters of the state’s homes. The electricity market that governs New Jersey, PJM, has used a boom in natural gas development to save consumers in the marketplace more than $3 billion, all while lowering harmful emissions by 30% since 2005 as a result of decreased coal use.

The unintended consequences of Murphy’s plan could be severe. First, eliminating natural gas use will saddle energy customers with higher bills and raise the cost of living across New Jersey. It will also likely hurt power reliability, which would have huge consequences for our state’s manufacturers. As someone who for years worked hand-in-hand with the businesses that employee nearly one million people in the Garden State, I can say with certainty that raising electric bills and endangering reliability is a surefire way to eliminate jobs and drive away industrial prospects.Continue reading

Murphy’s ambitious energy plan will saddle taxpayers with additional expenses | Opinion

By Bob Prunetti

When I led the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce and served as Mercer County executive, I got a firsthand look at the importance of smart planning. I also came to recognize the critical role of energy, especially to the consumers who use and pay for it and for its importance to economic development. That’s why New Jersey’s energy plan, recently announced by Gov. Phil Murphy, is so troubling. While it admirably aims to establish New Jersey as a leader on climate change, its real effect will be to saddle the state’s consumers with higher energy costs and burden taxpayers with more state-funded subsidies. This will have a chilling effect on future economic development in our state.

The plan is ambitious to say the least. Under it, New Jersey would become the first state to require new buildings and their builders to account for climate change, implementing new climate-based measures for government approval. The plan also includes initiatives to achieve an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2050. This administration plans to achieve all of this in part by requiring 100% so-called “clean energy” by 2050, meaning zero use of fossil fuels, including natural gas, within 30 years.

The problem? New Jersey can’t simply walk away from natural gas. Today, this fuel heats three-quarters of all homes in the state and accounts for half the state’s electricity generation. Natural gas is a critical part of providing reliable power to the nation’s most densely populated customer base while also producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions than an alternative such as coal. In other words, natural gas is critical to transitioning to a clean energy future. Completely cutting out the use of natural gas, as Gov. Murphy proposes, will undoubtedly lead to higher costs and less reliable power for consumers.

The other glaring problem? Getting to 100% renewables will require massive subsidies for the state’s handpicked energy winners, a move that means even more money from the pockets of New Jersey’s taxpayers.

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Groups forms to effect energy master plan

A coalition of labor, energy, business and civic groups have launched Affordable Energy for New Jersey to help shape energy policy following the release of New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan.

The group includes the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey, Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative 825, Consumer Energy Alliance, Commerce & Industry Association of New Jersey, New Jersey Builders Association, New Jersey Concrete & Aggregate Association, Southern New Jersey Development Council, Utility & Transportation Contractors Association, UA Pipefitters Local 274 and Operating Engineers Local 825.

“The EMP’s emphasis on a move to complete electrification unilaterally ignores the fact that such an infrastructure does not even exist, nor is it even in progress. While laudable, this plan does not answer the two most fundamental questions – how much will this cost the residents of New Jersey and what is the realistic timetable to implement any changes?” said Ron Morano, who will serve as executive director of the group. “The EMP presently relies too heavily on untested and not-yet realized technologies to meet our needs while hindering access to proven clean and affordable energy sources.”

Affordable Energy for New Jersey’s goals include: growing support for clean, affordable, reliable natural gas; creating knowledge about New Jersey’s access to natural gas; broadening the conversation from production to delivery of energy; and emphasizing affordability of energy while reinforcing safety and environmental benefits.

CEA Helps Launch Affordable Energy for New Jersey Coalition Along with Labor, Business Allies

TRENTON, NJConsumer Energy Alliance (CEA) today joined civic, labor, energy and business groups to launch Affordable Energy for New Jersey, a group working to ensure New Jersey residents continue to have safe, reliable and affordable energy choices in the wake of the recent release of the state’s Energy Master Plan (EMP).

“CEA is honored to be a part of this diverse Coalition to advocate for sensible, common-sense energy policies to ensure we can continue to have clean natural gas,” CEA Mid-Atlantic Director Michael Butler said. “This is crucial to meeting the energy needs and budgets of our friends and neighbors. New Jersey depends on natural gas to meet the vast majority of home heating and power demands, while keeping emissions down and helping provide a clean energy future.

“We can’t allow reckless policies to hurt consumer’s budgets, leave our most vulnerable out in the cold and our skilled tradesmen and women out of a job. For too long, posturing and irresponsible rhetoric has driven New Jersey’s policy discussions on natural gas and we are proud to join this great coalition to help dispel misinformation and advocate for a secure energy future for everyone in the Garden State.”Continue reading