ENERGY POLICY THAT WORKS FOR NEW JERSEY - NOT AGAINST
Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic changed the way we looked at the world, Governor Murphy’s proposed energy policy was a moonshot idea at best and bankrupting at worst.
Affordable Energy for New Jersey (AENJ) is a broad, grassroots coalition that advocates for actionable, fact-driven energy policy that emphasizes keeping costs low for our residents and businesses.
We believe that at the core of all energy related policy decisions, three simple questions must be answered:
- Is this idea feasible?
- Will this provide more reliable energy than we currently have?
- How much will this cost?
Our elected leaders have been ignoring all of these questions. AENJ demands the answers!
Despite having clear and affordable solutions at our fingertips, the Murphy administration wants to force costly mandates on our residents and businesses, requiring them to pay four-times more for energy, tens of thousands of dollars in expensive heating and cooking upgrades that do not work as well and upend of general way of life – all with no scientifically measurable impact on emissions but economically measurable failures.
There has never been a more important time to prioritize the affordability and feasibility of our energy policy.
Join us and learn more about what you can do.
Did you suffer sticker shock at your last electric bill? It’s not just the air conditioning, but with so many people working from home, you’re also cooking more, running the dishwasher and doing laundry.
The last power bill was a shocker for Cristina Gordon, who is running her company “C Bee PR” out of her home alongside her husband, an insurance executive, and their baby girl.
“We were working from home of course,” Gordon said. “But we are fairly good at turning the A/C down and the lights. So it was really a shock.”
In March, the family’s PSE&G bill was $135, with increased usage every month throughout the pandemic. The last bill doubled $344 bucks.
“Oh my gosh, why such a jump,” Gordon questioned.
She’s not alone, as 7 On Your Side was flooded on Facebook about high bills.
“Usage is up 48 percent,” Karinna complained.
My bill says, “I’m up 45% from last July,” laments teacher Deb Paulsen.
So, 7 On Your Side asked PSE&G to analyze the Gordon’s bill.
They recommended installing a smart meter at their new home to monitor usage, using programmable thermostats and swapping out old for new Energy Star appliances to save money, plus earn discounts and rebates.
More ways to save:
– Clean out the A/C filters each month during the summer months
– Use ceiling fans and
– Switch to more energy efficient LED light bulbs
Also, asking your employer if they can set up allowances on business-related expenses can’t hurt. Twitter gave employees a one-time, 1,000 productivity allowance to set up things like your at home desk setups.
Also don’t forget if you add up what it costs to commute, park and eat at your office. Your energy bill may be a lot less comparatively.
Beginning in March, when businesses across the country snapped off the lights and sent employees home to curb the spread of Covid-19, overall electricity consumption declined.
But household energy use surged, with some New York City apartments consuming, on average, 23% more electricity during business hours—a shift that, with the accompanying expense, could make things worse for those already suffering financially as a consequence of the pandemic.
The double-digit increases occurred on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. across nearly 300 city apartments whose energy habits researchers at Columbia University had monitored since 2018.
The apartments, they said, roughly match the diversity of the city’s residential building stock, and the researchers anticipated that other areas of the country observing stay-at-home orders would have experienced similar changes in energy use.
“I see air conditioning as the big load,” said Vijay Modi, a professor of mechanical engineering who helped design and conduct the study. “There were 20 days in the month that you didn’t use air conditioning from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and now you do. That’s 160 hours of air conditioning.”
One small window unit, he estimated, might add $12 to $15 to someone’s monthly utility bill—a cost that would vary by region, with average rates ranging from less than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour in Louisiana to nearly 31 cents in Hawaii.
Overall, weekday electricity use in the apartments included in the study increased by 7% after New York’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 22, while weekend use rose by 4%.
But the total amount of electricity consumed by residences at the height of the lockdown never matched the volume typically swallowed by commercial properties, even as many workers set up shop at home.
To explain the mismatch, Dr. Modi ticked off some of the ways the two differ: “Commercial buildings use far more lighting per square foot,” he said. “They have elevators. They must circulate air and water across the whole building. The mechanical room may be downstairs and have to pump stuff up to the 15th floor.”
All of that adds up to greater electrical demand and, when shut down, larger energy savings.
From the beginning of the lockdown, New York state consistently used 6% to 8% less electricity than normal, according to estimates by the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s electric grid and wholesale market.
In the city, the decreases were greater.
There, overall energy use declined by as much as 15%, and at times within the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. window, when energy use typically ramps up as people arrive at work, the decline was as high as 21%.
Other parts of the country experienced similar decreases.
Daily weekday electricity demand across the central region of the U.S. dropped by 9% to 13% in March and April compared with expected demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and demand in most of Michigan and Wisconsin was 11% to 16% lower, fueled in part by the March 18 decision by Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co.and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the three major car manufacturers based in Detroit, to begin closing their facilities.
During the 2008 recession, New York state saw an underrun of 1.9% in annual energy consumption, according to Zachary Smith, vice president of planning for the New York Independent System Operator. By the second quarter of 2010, consumption had returned to normal.
New York’s energy use has already crept up since businesses began slowly reopening in June, but overall consumption is still lower than normal, and forecasters predict the decreases could last for a year or more.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
How have you seen your electricity bill change during the pandemic? Join the conversation below.
“Right now, things have leveled off,” Mr. Smith said. “We see a reduction of about 3%. We anticipate it will continue for some time, most likely through all of 2021, and possibly well into 2022.”
But after this year’s unprecedented disruption, with many employees continuing to work from home, it’s unclear how a return to normal will look.
“What will work habits be once the economic recovery happens?” Mr. Smith said. “In the past, people would go back to work. Here, people will go back to work. But what does back to work mean?”
If businesses find they can reduce expenses by making the home office permanent, the shift from commercial to residential electricity use could be the pandemic’s lasting lightbulb moment.
Write to Jo Craven McGinty at Jo.McGinty@wsj.com
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.
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.
(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.”
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.
Affordable Energy for New Jersey
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
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:
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