Gov. Phil Murphy has a new energy plan that’s intended to fight climate change, but critics say it may have a big impact on your wallet.
Murphy unveiled the state’s “Energy Master Plan” on Monday, outlining key strategies to reach the administration’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
Murphy also signed an executive order directing the state Department of Environmental Protection to make sweeping regulatory reforms to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
With this executive action, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to pursue a comprehensive and aggressive sweep of climate change regulations, Murphy said.
“New Jersey faces an imminent threat from climate change, from rising seas that threaten our coastline to high asthma rates in some of our most vulnerable communities due to fossil fuel pollution,” said Murphy.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that, under the governor’s proposal, the state would begin to phase out the use of natural gas, lawmakers and business leaders say.
That part drew a sharp rebuke from critics, particularly Republican lawmakers and business leaders, who say more than 75 percent of homes in New Jersey are heated by natural gas.
Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, said natural gas is the primary source of electricity generation by the state’s utility companies, and it’s more affordable than other forms.
“While Governor Murphy’s energy plan may earn him pats on the back from other liberal millionaires, it’s nothing more than a tax that will drive up gas and electric bills of hard-working New Jerseyans who are already at the limit of what they can afford,” added Bucco.
“It’s another example of the governor not understanding the extreme cost of implementing a far-left progressive agenda,” he added. “Instead of offering relief that people are seeking, he’s promising higher energy bills that will drive the outmigration of more families and businesses from New Jersey.”
Murphy, however, noted that climate change will have an impact on the air we breathe and the homes that have been built, particularly in coastal areas where flooding has become a recurring threat.
“Successfully implementing the strategies outlined in the Energy Master Plan will drastically reduce New Jersey’s demand for fossil fuels, reduce our carbon emissions, greatly improve local air quality and related health impacts,” he said.
To fulfill Murphy’s commitment to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050, the Energy Master Plan comprehensively addresses New Jersey’s energy system, including electricity generation, transportation and buildings, and their associated greenhouse gas emissions and related air pollutants, officials say.
The Energy Master Plan outlines the following seven key strategies:
- Reducing energy consumption and emissions from the transportation sector, including encouraging electric vehicle adoption, electrifying transportation systems, and leveraging technology to reduce emissions and miles traveled.
- Accelerating deployment of renewable energy by developing offshore wind, community solar, a successor solar incentive program, solar thermal, and energy storage.
- Enacting 0.75 percent and 2 percent utility energy efficiency standards for natural gas and electricity, respectively.
- Decarbonization and electrification of new and existing buildings.
- Investing in grid technology to enable increased communication, sophisticated rate design, and reducing the state’s reliance on natural gas.
- Incentivizing local, clean power generation, prioritizing clean transportation options in these communities, and supporting municipalities in establishing community energy plans.
- Expanding upon New Jersey’s existing 52,000 clean energy jobs and investing in developing clean energy knowledge, services, and products that can be exported to other regions around the country and around the world.
The New Jersey Business & Industry Association released a statement from Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor on New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, saying he remains “very concerned by the overall cost impacts to ratepayers and businesses in the execution of this plan – particularly as there has yet to be a ratepayer impact study.”
“Additionally, we question the feasibility and reliability of a rushed abandonment of the use of natural gas, an energy source that heats more than 75 percent of New Jersey’s homes and businesses, and generates more than 50 percent of our electricity,” he said.
Limiting access to the least expensive and most reliable and abundant source of energy “will add to New Jersey’s affordability crisis and dramatically increase costs for our already overburdened residents and job creators,” he said.
“We also have great concerns that the Executive Order announced (Monday) as part of the EMP will have a direct, negative impact on manufacturing and industry in the state – without any significant carbon reductions,” he said.