NJ Propane Gas Association Highlights Omissions and Assumptions in EMP Cost Report; Calls for Full Disclosure of All Cost Factors, Including Capital, Operating and Subsidies
August 18, 2022 ‐‐‐ The New Jersey Propane Gas Association welcomes an overdue discussion of looming consumer costs anticipated from New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan (EMP). Not surprisingly, the Brattle Group’s study, accepted by the BPU August 17, relies on key assumptions and omissions to suggest, erroneously, that the EMP will cost consumers only a little bit more, compared to their current energy bills.
Yet, by their own admission, the Brattle study omits any discussion of capital costs for equipment conversions, building retrofits and other “up-front” costs. These costs are huge for all classes of customers but conveniently ignored in the Brattle study.
The report also assumes significant new savings from energy efficiency and conservation efforts, as if customers are wasting expensive energy today, and can afford even more up-front costs.
Then there’s the assumption that natural gas price increases will gallop far more than electricity increases by 2030, partly because of state-mandated conversions away from fossil fuels. So the state will help to cause the gas rate increases that will allegedly justify electric conversions. Of course, there’s no discussion of the ratepayer costs of wind or solar farms which don’t exist yet, their transmission lines, substations and distribution systems, not to mention the continued reliance on nuclear plants whose state-approved subsidies will expire, and gas-fired peaking units.
Lower-income customers might be spared some impacts because more state subsidies might be available to cover the huge costs of conversion and operation of electric appliances.
But, not to worry, customers can still keep their gas-fired cooking and non-heating equipment.
And, the cost projections are based on customers served by South Jersey Gas and Atlantic City Electric, neither of which serves the majority of New Jersey homeowners, and neither of which has the highest rates in New Jersey. New Jersey’s overall electric rates are already among the highest in the country, and the Master Plan will do nothing to ease the burden.
And finally, the report suggests that the state will save $1.7 billion due to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and, in the same section, notes this estimate was never actually calculated for the study.
New Jerseyans have been waiting since the Energy Master Plan’s 2019 update to learn what it will actually cost. With this latest study, we’re no closer to finding out, and it’s unlikely to be only a little bit more.
NJPGA is the statewide trade association representing propane distribution and service companies serving more than 120,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers who rely on propane for their energy needs including space heating, water heating, cooking, recreational uses, manufacturing processes and transportation