Suppose you had a business that was making money, polluted the environment, and left long-term expenses for our children and grandchildren to take care of. Then you asked the taxpayer to subsidize your business. It sounds like something right out of Donald Trump’s playbook, but here in New Jersey such a proposal may end up on Governor Murphy’s desk and he’s likely to sign it.
Senate Bill 877 is going through the legislative process and is scheduled to come up for a vote on Thursday. Sponsored by Senators Steve Sweeney, Bob Smith, and Jeff VanDrew, it would subsidize PSE&G’s nuclear generation industry in New Jersey.
It’s not that PSE&G needs the money. According to a coalition of environmentalists, business advocates, and senior citizens, PSE&G has been profitable and will remain so. Among the group that spoke this afternoon on the state house annex steps were people who advocate for clean energy and lobbyists who are not averse to nuclear power but are opposed to this particular approach.
Under the bill, the subsidies would bypass the state’s Rate Counsel whose job it is to represent consumers in determining the prices of energy. Instead, according to today’s speakers, that function would be solely with PSE&G’s nuclear business. Rates would necessarily rise to pay for the subsidies, consequently driving businesses large and small to other states. From an environmental standpoint, it props up the dirty energy plants in Salem County. (New Jersey’s other nuke in Ocean County is now scheduled to start the decades-long decommissioning and remediation process later this year).
The bill is nothing more than a tax on consumers and businesses to prop up a dying and dirty industry. So far, Governor Murphy has not weighed in on the legislation.
On Thursday, several modifications to the bill will be discussed in the Senate, and a vote may occur. Meanwhile, this video shows some snippets of the remarks by the bill’s opponents.