The return of Asm Benson’s Science Policy Friday. Glad to have it. Promoted by Rosi. This week’s column is on a new novel piece of legislation that encourages municipalities to consider establishing microgrids that can continue to provide power to… Read more
This week’s column is on an important piece of legislation that will ensure that residential and small-business solar continues to grow with the full support of state policy. As always, thanks to my science and environment intern Arcadia Lee for research and drafting this article. Thank you to NJ Spotlight and NJ.com for their continued coverage of these important issues to the state of New Jersey. Cross-posted at DanBenson.com
You or maybe a neighbor in town has installed solar, and you’ve seen or heard about how the power company’s meter “runs backward” when the solar panels are powering the home. That means that the homeowner is receiving a retail rate for the power they are generating, making the payback for solar much quicker for the homeowner. The technical term for this is “Net Metering.”
Net metering is the system that allows people who generate their own electricity using solar panels to feed excess energy back into the grid, sometimes referred to as “nega-watt” energy. Net metering encourages residential and commercial solar growth and may allow a utility company to avoid costly investments in new transmission and distribution of grid electricity.
Under the current New Jersey law, utilities do not have to offer net metering when generating capacity by net-metered customers equals 2.5% of the state’s peak demand for electricity, and as NJ Spotlight reports, a threshold we are already above. But on August 10th, the governor signed legislation (A-3838/S-2420) sponsored by Assemblymen John F. McKeon, Tim Eustace, Reed Gusciora and myself. The new law expands the state’s net-metering capacity threshold to 2.9% of total annual kilowatt-hours sold in state. More importantly, this means that the crucial pro-consumer pro-environment and pro-renewable energy job policy of net metering will continue unabated as solar continues its growth in the Garden State.
He has proposed grabbing $210 million from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, strangling a program that is devoted mostly to conservation efforts.
This money comes from electricity consumers who pay a surcharge on their bills each month. It pays for green workers to install insulation at hospitals and town halls across the state. It helps subsidize retrofits to homes. Some of it helps subsidize green-energy projects.
Cutting money for workers to actually have a job and additional money for projects that would put people to work. That sounds like Christie had a pretty direct impact on unemployment. The editorial continued: (Emphasis mine)
So let’s summarize: Christie’s money grab would increase energy costs, kill green jobs and lead to more air pollution.
What is the future of New Jersey? Will New Jersey continue to be the polluted view that people get from the Turnpike? Or will it be a clean, bright and innovative future that will make New Jerseyans proud. Governor Christie addressed this very topic in last week’s State of the State. The governor referred to the “New Jersey of our youth”, “setting a national example” and a “step in a very new direction”. Now it us up to the governor and New Jerseyans ensure that is the right direction.
The Garden State’s past has been checkered with pollution and dirty industry. [more below the fold]
No wonder the Governor wanted to switch attention away from his budget. Maybe he was hoping to avoid stories looking at the consequences like this:
The state raided $128 million from the Retail Margin Fund, which is generated by fees from commercial and industrial users, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, and will take $14 million under the $29.4 billion budget signed into law last week.
Greg Reinert, spokesman for the Board of Public Utilities, said the fund had never spent the money collected over the years.
Today, he said, “there’s nothing left in it.”
And it’s not even taxpayer money he’s raided to balance the budget:
“One of the problems is that this isn’t taxpayer money. . . . It was ratepayer money that had been set aside and dedicated to clean energy that helps people save money and helps create jobs and helps reduce pollution, so it was a no-win situation for the environment, the economy, and the people of New Jersey,” said Matt Elliott, the global-warming and clean-energy advocate for Environment New Jersey.
Sure, who needs to create jobs, help the environment and the people of NJ. I thought that Christie was planning to end gimmicks and fund raids, instead he just doesn’t talk about it or calls it something else hoping you won’t question or notice. Like a thief in the night, he steals from the environment so millionaires can get a tax cut.
NJN devoted their first three segments of the news program last night to the energy debate in the Governor’s race. Here is the video and then I’ll discuss some of the highlights after:
The first segment had Michael Aron covering Chris Christie’s energy event. At the end of the segment, they showed Christie’s SUV driving away from the event and said that he refused to take questions, what a surprise. Aron even noted that it’s strange to see a candidate roll out a major policy plan and not be willing to talk about it. They interviewed the Solar trade association chief who said he thinks they need to hear something stronger than what they have heard.
The second segment covered Governor Corzine’s energy event. Corzine said Christie’s attacks are ridiculous. He said that NJ is installing and producing solar panels at a rate that is only surpassed by California, who is 5 times as big. Talking about Christie’s attacks, the Governor called them:
A political massage of something that doesn’t relate to the facts.
The third segment brought in the director of Sales and marketing for Sun Farm Network, Pam Frank. While she said she didn’t want to take sides in the argument between Christie and Corzine, she says that NJ has been an undisputed leader in the clean energy agenda. She says in the last decade we’ve laid the foundation for what will be phenomenal growth in NJ. She talked about the potential for job creation in the industry, past what Christie argues in his plans. She wouldn’t get into the differing statistics the campaigns are using, but said that NJ has done phenomenal work to lay a unique policy framework, really what she thinks is the only competitive market framework in the world for Solar energy.