Sierra Club: Legislature Sells Out Clean Energy with Nuclear Bill Package

Legislature Sells Out Clean Energy with Nuclear Bill Package

The Assembly and Senate both passed a package of bills including Nuclear Subsidy S2313 (Sweeney)/ A3724 (McKeon), Solar renewable energy standards-modify S2314 (Sweeney)/ A3723 (McKeon), and Wind Energy Project Offshore Application S1217 (Sweeney)/ A2485 (Mazzeo).The New Jersey Sierra Club has concerns that these bills not only subsidize nuclear power at the expense of the ratepayers, but will lead to an overall undermining of renewable energy efforts in New Jersey.

“Today the Legislature sold out New Jersey ratepayers to PSEG by passing this bill package that’s greencover for a giant nuclear subsidy. In the process, they have uncut and blocked renewable energy from moving forward in our state. The so-called ‘green bills’ that are part of the package are nothing but greenscam that puts the environment and ratepayers of NJ at risk. It’s nothing more than giving Public Service Enterprise Greed a blank check from the ratepayer that will undermine progress for renewable energy in New Jersey. This bill hurts renewable energy and ratepayer’s wallets,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This bill package is the biggest subsidy and rip-off in the history of New Jersey. It will undermine renewable energy and cost ratepayers millions of dollars. Now it will be up for a floor vote in both Houses”


Nuclear Subsidies

Nuclear Subsidies S2313 (Sweeney)/ A3724 directs the Board of Public Utilities (board) to establish a Zero Emission Certificate (ZEC) program. Under the bill, a ZEC is a certificate, issued by the board or its designee, representing the fuel diversity, air quality, and other environmental attributes of one megawatt-hour of electricity generated by an eligible nuclear power plant selected by the board to participate in the ZEC program. The bill passed in the Assembly by a vote of 59-10-1 and in the Senate by a vote of 29-7. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club released the following statement:

“The Legislature just gave PSEG the biggest corporate subsidy in state history: $3 billion for their stockholders at the expense of the ratepayers. The whole bill is just an excuse to subsidize the nuclear power plants. PSEG are getting $300 million a year whether they need it or not. We should not be moving forward with this nuclear subsidy deal when PSEG will get $800 million in subsidies from Trump’s tax cut. PJM is also looking to give them millions in subsidies. Under energy deregulation these plants also received $2.5 billion dollars in subsidies as Stranded Assets, despite being profitable. PSEG still want to take billions of NJ ratepayer money to subsidize nuclear their power plants that are already making money.

“This bill still does not have language for replacing the plants when they close with renewables. This means that when the plants close, they can be replaced with natural gas. They must do an assessment to continue giving the subsidies but the documents they get from PSEG will be hidden from the public and Ratepayer Advocate. The new nuclear bill still does not guarantee the financial transparency needed to ensure ratepayers won’t subsidize profitable nuclear plant. This bill is bad for the environment, the ratepayers, and the workers. This is all about helping PSEG’s bottom line. We need Governor Murphy to veto this rip-off bill.”


Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency

Solar renewable energy standards-modify S2314 (Sweeney)/ A3723 (McKeon): Establishes and modifies clean energy and energy efficiency programs; modifies State’s solar renewable energy portfolio standards. The bill passed in the Assembly by a vote of 50-20-7 and in the Senate by a vote of 29-8. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statement:

“This bill is nothing but greenscam for the PSEG subsidy. It will actually block renewable energy by placing a cost cap on renewable energy. This bill is a scam because of the cost cap on renewable energy that blocks us from reaching our goal of 50% renewable by 2030. This is because the current solar program will eat up almost all the cap, preventing us from meeting those RPS goals. This would send money to help the economy and jobs of other states and is a fraud that actually works against renewable energy. Murphy needs to CV this bill to remove the cost cap on renewables and add language dedicating us to the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. This is how Donald Trump would do green energy: $3 billion to subsidize a public utility’s profitable plants, while capping renewable energy so it will never get built. This is a dirty deal that’s become a dirty game to undermine renewable energy at the expense of the ratepayers.

“This cost cap is a right-wing tactic to block renewable energy. There is no cost cap for coal, oil, gas pipelines or nuclear. It’s a deliberate way to undermine renewable energy. Under this bill, we’ll be producing less solar power than we currently do by close to 40%. Exempting off-shore wind projects from caps is a good thing but New Jersey will never meet the 50% renewable portfolio standard with the solar cost cap. Our concern is the cost of solar SREC program, which have been analyzed to take up 6% of the cap, whether it’s a 7% or 9% cap. If we don’t fix this in 14 months, the solar market in NJ will cola We should exempt in-state New Jersey renewable energy projects from any cap. There is also no language in the bill package stating that the nuclear plants must be replaced with renewable energy when they close. This means we could be subsidizing nuclear energy just to pave the way for more natural gas while undermining renewables.”

Fisherman’s Energy Wind Project

Wind Energy Project Offshore Application S1217 (Sweeney)/ A2485 (Mazzeo):  BPU consideration and approval of amended application for qualified wind energy project offshore in certain NJ territorial waters. The bill passed in the Assembly by a vote of 57-12 and in the Senate by a vote of 31-4. Jeff Tittel released the following statement:

“The Fisherman’s Energy wind project is something we do not need. It is too small and will undercut larger offshore wind projects off the coast. It also does not follow best practices and was proposed many years ago; they even gave them the site without doing an RFP. We have concerns that this legislation will end up hurting our ability to get to our goal of 3500 MW by 2030. We need to focus on putting together programs and mechanisms to get the 1100 MW built further off the coast. This will help make our long-term goals a reality. Offshore wind is the most reliable and cost-effective form of offshore power. We believe we should be pushing for these long-term goals before funding any other, smaller, projects.

“We believe that the project covered by this legislation will undermine the ability to get larger offshore wind projects. The cost-to-scale would make this project three to four times more expensive than doing a large-scale project further off the coast. Our concern is that if the project becomes too expensive or has environmental impacts because it’s too close to shore, it could also undermine public support for the larger offshore wind projects. New Jersey should be either getting rid of the Net Benefits Test or change it to adequately price the impacts of carbon and air pollution. This will allow us to maximize the positive impacts and monetary benefits from protecting the environment and public health. We have to make sure we’ll planning and spending with comprehensive legislation in the right way to maximize our potential for offshore wind power.”

All three bills in the package have passed both Houses and now go to the Governor’s desk.

“This bill package together will set us back when it comes to moving forward on renewable energy. It’s all about an unneeded subsidy for PSEG. It goes against the Murphy Administration’s strong renewable energy goals and sides with utilities over the ratepayers of New Jersey. We need the Governor to veto the nuclear subsidy bill and CV the green energy bill,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We need to pass legislation that supports renewable energy like feasible solar and wind projects. Instead, they went ahead with this package that is nothing but greencover for the largest subsidy in state history.”

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