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New Jersey business group worried about governor’s energy plan, potential for end to use of natural gas

The state of New Jersey is in the process of transitioning to a low carbon economy, which means businesses in the state may be faced with new regulations.

Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order that puts the state on a path of transitioning to 100 percent clean energy use by 2050.

Ray Cantor, vice president of government affairs for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, told The Center Square that the governor’s Energy Master Plan “seeks to not only transform the electrical grid to ‘clean’ sources by essentially eliminating natural gas, it also seeks to electrify the building and transportation sectors.

“While we are supportive of decarbonizing our economy to the extent feasible, we have significant concerns with the cost as well as feasibility,” Cantor said.

Cantor said his association is in favor of reporting requirements that allow for a good inventory of carbon sources. Cantor believes reducing carbon by using renewable energy and supporting nuclear generating facilities will have a more positive impact on the economy and business communities than banning a fuel or source like natural gas.Continue reading

Business leaders fear climate-change regulations will add to costs, stunt growth

An upcoming cascade of new state regulations to respond to climate change is causing trepidation in the business community even before being issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection, business leaders said.

Spokespeople for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association said yesterday that their members know little about the regulations that will implement Gov. Phil Murphy’s recently updated Energy Master Plan (EMP), but fear that they will impose onerous burdens on companies as part of what Murphy called “the most sweeping set of climate regulations in the country.”

“The fear is probably more than what we know,” said Ray Cantor, vice president of government affairs for the association. “The EMP really didn’t take into account any of the comments that business groups offered, and then [Gov. Murphy] signed the Executive Order the same day with very vague language that said DEP shall change its air, land-use and other regulations to take into account climate change. That’s all we know.”

Shawn LaTourette, DEP chief of staff, said the EMP process was conducted by the Board of Public Utilities, which included business representatives in its discussions. Now, DEP will oversee the regulatory process, and the agency wants to hear from all stakeholders, including the business community.

“We’re at the beginning of the next chapter, and we’re inviting the business community to come with us in writing the next chapter,” LaTourette said in an interview with NJ Spotlight. “We’re going to be with them shoulder to shoulder,  just like we are with local governments and our partners in the advocacy community because we are really all in this together.”Continue reading

Kean, Thompson Slam Gov. Murphy’s Energy Master Plan to Shut Off Natural Gas by 2050

TRENTON, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan unveiled last week to address climate change has drawn sharp criticism from 30th District Assemblymen Edward “Ned” Thomson and Sean Kean.

Both lawmakers, whose district includes Belmar and Lake Como, claim that EMP’s goal to move New Jersey to “100 percent clean energy” by 2050 will dramatically increase energy costs, citing specifically the proposed phase-out of natural gas, which currently heats more than 75 percent of homes and businesses, and generates about 50 percent of the state’s electricity.

“Completely eliminating natural gas is irresponsible and will dramatically increase energy costs at a time when so many of our residents are struggling to keep up with higher taxes and an exorbitant cost of living,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth). “Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is a noble goal, but the ambition of the plan is more than our residents can afford.”

While also acknowledging there are positive elements in the plan, Kean (R-Monmouth) said New Jersey is facing an affordability crisis and many people cannot afford to pay more for energy or home heating. As a result, he said, the plan must realistically plan for energy consumption and production that is responsible and affordable.

“We cannot rush to renewable energy if the cost is too great and will not meet the state’s energy demands,” Kean said. “Natural gas provides over half of our electricity and heats three quarters of New Jersey’s homes. Natural gas must still be part of the EMP in a thoughtful and economical way.”

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Gov. Murphy’s Energy Plan: Here’s Why Critics Say It’ll Cost You

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.

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Sweeney Emphasizes Role of Natural Gas in Meeting State’s Energy Needs

Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney issued the following statement today emphasizing the role of natural gas in meeting the state’s energy needs and making the transition to clean fuels:

“As we make the transition to clean fuels and renewable sources of energy, it is important that we recognize the role of natural gas in meeting the state’s energy needs. Natural gas is an important component of the electric grid, making vital contributions to the reliability and affordability of energy for residents and businesses in New Jersey.

“Right now, 50 percent of electric generation in New Jersey is powered by natural gas, which has displaced coal and other dirtier and more costly fuels, and 75 percent of our homes are heated by natural gas. On average, households that use natural gas for heating, cooking, and clothes drying save $875 annually.

“The Energy Master Plan, which has the laudable goal of working towards a new era of clean energy, will impose a reduction in the availability of natural gas that is inconsistent with consumer preference, will increase costs and jeopardize the resiliency and reliability of our current energy systems. That is a price we should not be forced to pay.

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Poll finds strong support for natural gas in N.J. — and draws sharp defense from ELEC825 officials

The bottom line is, New Jersey residents want to be cooking with gas — according to the results of a poll that were issued recently by the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative 825. And the organization made it clear it supports voters’ stance.

With anticipation growing for the state’s finalized Energy Master Plan, ELEC825 this week released the results of a statewide poll conducted recently and based on the draft plan issued by the Board of Public Utilities in June.

The biggest issue appears to be state mandates included in the draft EMP, including a potential blocking of the use of natural gas in homes and businesses. A vast majority of respondents, 67%, disapproved of such a requirement.

“Our polling shows one clear and undeniable fact — New Jersey residents want clean, affordable and reliable natural gas,” Greg Lalevee, the business manager for IUOE Local 825 and chairman of ELEC825, said in a prepared statement. “If next week’s Energy Master Plan includes a moratorium or complete phase-out of natural gas, it will be at complete odds with the voters of New Jersey.”

When asked if they could support a ban on natural gas if it were coupled with an “environmentally friendly” electric power requirement, the gap narrowed a bit, but a majority — 55% — continued to oppose such a ban.

More than 80% of respondents, in fact, had a favorable view of natural gas as a power source, with 82% saying they had a favorable opinion of gas, and 85% saying they support its use in energy generation.

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