New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation this week that aims to bolster the state’s zero-emission energy generation portfolio including nuclear, solar, wind and storage, citing climate change at the top of the new bill as the imperative behind the action.
Zero-Emission Certificates for Nuclear
The new legislation allows for subsidies for the state’s existing nuclear generating plants, raises its renewable generation targets, incentivizes energy storage and offshore wind and overhauls its solar program. The new bill creates zero-emission certificates for three nuclear reactors operating in the state, showing a clear bias for non-renewable and highly contested nuclear generation.
The Governor’s new bills and executive orders layout the framework to transition the state to zero-emission electricity generation over the next few of decades, starting with a focus on creating an incentive program for nuclear plants. New bill SB 2500 creates a Zero Emission Certificate program and allows nuclear powered electricity plants to apply for a new zero-emission generator status.
Much like the federal Renewable Energy Certificate program, New Jersey’s system will grant certificates to approved generators which can then be traded, sold or bartered.
Giving nuclear generators special zero-emission generator status gives them special status when compared to the flood of natural gas-fired generation that has boomed in recent years, surging to 56% of the state’s electricity mix in 2016 with nuclear at 39%.
Renewed Focus on Solar, Wind and Storage
The new legislation is the first step at restoring the progress the solar and offshore wind industries had just started to make before incentives died off. The specific target of 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030 is now written into the new legislation, bolstered by reinstated tax credits for offshore wind manufacturing that expired during his predecessor Chris Christie’s term.
RTO Insider expanded on the changes:
“The BPU must submit a report on the storage findings within one year; six months after that, it must initiate a proceeding to add 600 MW of storage by 2021 and 2,000 MW by 2030.
“The bill also requires electric power suppliers and basic generation service providers to increase the share of solar power in their portfolios to 5.1% by energy year 2021 before gradually reducing the percentage through 2033. The bill also reduces the solar alternative compliance payments beginning in energy year 2019 through 2033. Future solar RECs will be for 10 years, down from the current 15.”
Locks In Long Term Renewables Targets
The executive order signed by the Governor also forms a Energy Master Plan Committee to create a new Energy Master Plan for the state, as it is required to do every 3 years. This time around, the Governor is pushing for a plan that will get the state to 100% renewable generation by January 1, 2050:
“This 2019 Energy Master Plan (the “2019 Plan”) shall provide a comprehensive blueprint for the total conversion of the State’s energy production profile to 100% clean energy sources on or before January 1, 2050, and shall further provide specific proposals to be implemented over the next ten (10) years in order to achieve the January 1, 2050 goal”
The new legislation also gets New Jersey back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which the prior Governor, Chris Christie, had pulled the state out of.
Reactions to the new bills and executive orders have understandably been mixed. Nuclear critics are upset that the new bills bolster failing nuclear plants, climate change activists see wins across the board in the overarching focus on slashing emissions, and renewable energy pundits are celebrating the short and long term focus on pumping up the firm targets for renewables over the next few decades.
As with any legislation, not everyone is happy, but it is clear that the new Governor of New Jersey is intent on changing the state’s near term and long term energy mix for the better.
THANK YOU Gov @PhilMurphyNJ for signing a historic renewable energy bill that allows citizens to benefit from affordable, accessible and reliable solar energy. Sunrunners were honored to be in attendance. Let's keep NJ shining! @votesolar @SolarAccess @SEIA @Sunrun @SunPower pic.twitter.com/b62GKUirbM
— Sunrun (@Sunrun) May 23, 2018
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.