Tag Archive: BPU

#Science Policy Friday: Small Step for Solar Paves Way for Greener Grid

Promoted by Bill Orr

SciPoliFri_Box.gifThis 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.

News Roundup and Open Thread for Monday, August 17, 2015

A tunnel powwow: The Record’s Mike Kelly reports, “Gov. Christie, Sen. Booker, and U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will meet in Newark tomorrow to discuss how to fix the growing problems with the rail tunnel under the Hudson River.” Don’t expect a lot, but it’s a beginning.    

Julian Bond, civil rights leader and campaigner against the Vietnam war, passed away Saturday. In 2010 he came to Trenton to speak on behalf of marriage equality, saying, “My gay brothers and sisters came South and marched alongside me in the struggle for my civil rights. I came North today to support the struggle for their civil rights.”

Two snakes in the Pinelands: The decision of Christie appointee Pinelands Commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg that the Pinelands Commissioners no longer need to approve the gas pipeline, only the state Board of Public Utilities, sparks outrage and a potential legal battle. (See below the fold what Jeff Tittel has to say.)

Out on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, the presidential race can feel rather personal. The town’s been intimately dependent on both Donald Trump and Gov. Christie, not to mention Trump’s cabinet choice, Carl Icahn, owner of Tropicana.

Seaside Heights Casino Pier gets OK to rebuild, and will move the iconic Sky Ride 160 feet away.

Christie sinks to 11th. With the second national post-Fox debate poll, Christie and John Kasich are at 3.8% in Real Clear Politics average of the four most recent polls. Like the Fox show, the CNN Sept. 16, debate  will be divided into two parts. One grouping will feature the top 10 candidates according to public polling.

Planning New Jersey’s Energy Future

This is the third in a series of articles or news gathering of science and technology policy issues facing New Jersey or the nation. Thanks to my science and environment intern Arcadia Lee for research and drafting this article.  Cross-posted at DanBenson.com

Energy touches the lives of every New Jersey resident – every day. Our quality of life, our security, our prosperity, the land and water around us, and how we work and play all depend on energy. Energy master planning is an important aspect of proactive facilities management, providing an expertly defined and practical road-map to a sustainable future environment.

New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities Office of Clean Energy will be holding hearings this month to update the state’s Energy Master Plan.  

Adding to the Energy Master Plan’s importance is its relationship to the federal Clean Power Plan announced this week by President Obama.  The EPA is giving each state an individual goal for cutting power plant emissions. States can then decide for themselves how to get there.

QoTD – BPU Edition

“Governor Christie did one thing right.”

         – Peg Schaffer, Somerset County Democratic Chair

on Christie’s recent appointment of Upendra Chivukula as a commissioner on the Board of Public Utilities – at a dinner tonight in honor of Chivukula’s new post and of his accomplishments in the state legislature.

Blue Jersey wishes the new Commissioner the best of luck in his new position.

Photo: Chivukula accepting a New Jersey state flag that was flown over the State House in his honor earlier today

NJ Senate Today

The Senate Judiciary Committee has just commenced confirmation interviews for Jamie Fox as Transportation Commissioner, Richard Mroz as Chair of the Board of Public Utilities, and Upendra Chivukula as a member of the BPU. (You can listen here.) Both Fox and Chivukula are Democrats, a surprising step for Governor Christie. Fox has worked in the past for leading Democrats (he coined the powerful phrase “I am a gay American” for the resigning Gov. McGreevey), but has also served as a former Transportation Commissioner and Deputy Director at the NY/NJ Port Authority. Rumor has it that Christie, whose transportation fund is calamitously broke, may surrender his “no new taxes” policy and with help from Fox promote a gas tax increase. It is hard to remember when Christie nominations were scheduled so quickly before the Judiciary Committee. These appointments should sail through the vetting process today, and may even be presented this afternoon at a full Senate session.

At 2:00 pm there is a Senate voting session which includes a bill to reform the NY/NJ Port Authority, sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. This bill will have teeth as an identical bill has already passed the NY legislature. The PA – a bi-state agency – will be required to follow these regulations which call for increased transparency and accountability. The Assembly should act promptly to hold a committee hearing and schedule a vote. This bill is important but only a first step in reforming this complex, lone-wolf agency which in the past reported only to the two governors and even then was secretive about its actions and dismissive toward its customers.