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Gov. Christie's Energy Plan Draws Fire from Clean Power Advocates

The plan would reduce renewable energy goals to 22.5 percent of electricity generation by 2020, down from the 30 percent of his predecessor

By Maria Gallucci, SolveClimate News

Jun 14, 2011
Gov. Christie

Gov. Chris Christie's vision for New Jersey's energy future has come under fire from green industry groups who say his blueprint would undermine the state’s national leadership in clean energy development.

The governor announced the much-anticipated draft of his 2011 Energy Master Plan (EMP) last Tuesday, just two weeks after vowing to withdraw New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional carbon trading program.

"The EMP supports the development of new energy-related technologies such as fuel cells, offshore wind, and alternatively fueled vehicles while encouraging the developers, providers and support businesses related to these technologies, to locate here in New Jersey," Christie said in a June 7 press release.

But critics of the plan say that Christie sends a conflicting message: he avows to place a broader emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, yet proposes to eliminate certain solar energy incentive programs and lower the bar on statewide renewables goals.

The EMP is a non-binding document with a 10-year outlook meant to guide legislators on energy policy decisions. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is the plan’s lead implementing agency and will hold three public hearings in July and August before Christie issues his final plan.

Christie's draft was expected to be released this spring but was delayed, in part because of Japan's Fukushima crisis and the debate it has sparked over the future of nuclear power in New Jersey.

Ultimately, the governor said he would consider the possibility of opening a new nuclear station once the 615-megawatt, 42-year-old Oyster Creek plant closes in 2019, 10 years ahead of schedule. He noted that three natural gas projects totaling nearly 2,000 megawatts of power have already been awarded contracts for new in-state combined-cycle generation plants.

Local business groups largely applauded the inclusion of nuclear power and natural gas, and they praised the governor for his efforts to cut commercial energy costs. But Assembly Utilities and Telecom Chairman Upendra Chivukula saw mixed signals.

"His message is going back and forth, and it is very conflicting in terms of how he wants to achieve what he is trying to achieve," he told SolveClimate News.

He pointed to Christie's reduction of the plan’s renewable energy goals to 22.5 percent of all electricity generation by 2020, down from the 30 percent renewables goals laid out by his predecessor, former Gov. Jon Corzine.

Christie's EMP would also consider scaling back the state's solar energy requirement to reach around 2,500 gigawatt-hours of in-state solar electricity generation by 2021 and more than 5,300 gigawatt-hours by 2026.

The plan suggests shifting the focus from individual homeowner solar projects to industrial-scale arrays as well.

"We believe that the recommendations in the plan regarding solar are inappropriate, and now is not the time to reduce our solar goals," said Dennis Wilson, president of Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA), a solar advocacy trade association representing New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

"Solar energy costs have greatly decreased and they are predicted to continue to decrease by as much as 50 percent through the rest of the decade, so now is really the time to increase that commitment," he said.

New Jersey is the nation’s second largest solar market behind California. With nearly 300 megawatts of solar power, New Jersey accounted for 14 percent of U.S. cumulative installed solar capacity in 2010, while California made up 47 percent with 971 megawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

You have to worry about these

You have to worry about these things and I am just very glad to see that some people are fighting for this.

It is good that it is drawing

It is good that it is drawing fire from the critics. We are just killing ourselves slowly and even more so when it comes to our children and their children...

renewables

"... suggests shifting the focus from individual homeowner solar projects to industrial-scale arrays as well."

We are one of the country's most densely-populated states, as well as a compact one.  I don't see any mention of where he hopes an "industrial-scale array" might be located, and the bluster he routinely rules with sounds more evident here than any constructive reality. His stated intention to push ahead hydrofracturing in our Delaware River basin with the 20%  vote he commands here sums up his position - a blind rush towards anything surrounded by money

Nice post! It is really

Nice post! It is really useful information. I hope other people will read on this.

 

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