NJ aims for 100% clean energy by 2050 — some say it’s not enough
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has released a comprehensive draft of the state’s 2019 Energy Master Plan, which calls for 100% clean energy by 2050.
The plan, which provides an initial blueprint for the total conversion of Jersey’s energy profile, calls for “carbon-neutral electricity generation and maximum electrification of the transportation and building sectors to meet or exceed the Global Warming Response Act greenhouse emissions reductions of 80 percent relative to 2006 levels by 2050.”
The plan calls for several steps to be taken to achieve the clean energy goal, including reducing energy consumption and emissions from the transportation sector, accelerating deployment of renewable energy, maximizing energy efficiency and conservation, reducing energy use through decarbonization, modernizing the electric grid and utility infrastructure, and expanding clean energy job training.
Not everybody is impressed by the plan.
Food and Water Watch senior organizer Matt Smith said it's "not a roadmap to a 100% clean energy future, but rather a plan to keep New Jersey hooked on dirty energy from fossil fuels and nuclear power.”
“Dirty, unsafe nuclear energy, while it’s being called for in the master plan, we believe it should not be playing a role in the clean energy plan for New Jersey or any other state," Smith said.
He said the group is also very concerned the plan calls for unproven carbon-capture technology “that would essentially allow fossil fuel companies in New Jersey to continue business as usual, to continue to release harmful pollutants into our air, while simply trying to use this unproven technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
He said while renewable energy would increase under the plan. "it doesn’t go beyond the state’s existing and quite frankly meager renewable energy goals, and it does not set aggressive standards for energy efficiency.”
He said “100% clean renewable energy from solar and wind has to be the future for New Jersey, or quite frankly there will be no future.”
Smith said we are in a climate crisis and meaningful steps must be taken immediately. He wants an immediate moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects across the state.
In a press release, BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said the board was proud of the plan, the product of input from hundreds of stakeholders.
"I am confident that it will serve as a roadmap to building a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable energy future for our state to establish the lowest cost pathway to 100 percent clean energy by 2050," he said.
BPU spokesman Peter Peretzman said the plan as it exists is a draft, and "we look forward to exploring options through further engagement with state agencies, regional partners and stakeholders."
The plan lays out several strategies and goals, including encouraing the use of more electric vehicles, and creating renewable energy resources — such as wind and solar — with a focus on historically underserved populations. It aims to use energy more efficiently through building code and appliance standards, and to find new financing mechanisms for energy efficiency. It looks to incentivize local, clean power generation and prioritize transportation in underderserved communicties. And the plan looks to leverage economic opporunities clean energy can provide, creating mechanisms for clean energy job training.
BPU Meetings to discuss the Energy Master Plan are scheduled for July 17 a the State House in Trenton, Aug. 8 at Seton Hall University in Newark, and Sept. 12 at the Kroc Center in Camden.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com