The Clean Energy Fund is one of six programs financed by the societal benefits charge (SBC) established by the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act. Most of the money is generated by large users of energy. Intended uses include support for the Clean Energy Program to fund clean energy investments and energy efficiency. Unfortunately, more than $1.5 billion in Clean Energy Funds have been diverted to help balance the state budget. This expropriation hurts New Jersey’s efforts to switch to cleaner fuels to produce electricity and eliminate dependency on fossil fuels. All told, clean energy in New Jersey starts with protecting the Clean Energy Fund.
Attaining 100 percent clean energy by 2050 also requires planning, planning and more planning. New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan acknowledges a mandate to reduce GHG emissions by 2050 while it encourages the use and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. Indeed, the state’s blueprint for energy is due for an overhaul. Pipelines, compressor stations and gas-fired power plants are being built without needs analyses. This infrastructure sprawl can cause irreparable damage and contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions — exacerbating adverse health effects for New Jersey residents — and crowds the market for renewable energy.
One obvious path for clean energy is to harness offshore wind. Because of its geographical location on the East Coast, New Jersey represents a viable and productive hub for the offshore wind industry. More than a decade ago, New Jersey was poised to become a leader in offshore wind, and even in the early days of the outgoing administration it looked as though New Jersey would establish itself as the first state in the nation to move forward. Disappointingly, the landmark 2010 Offshore Wind Economic Development Act has seen almost no progress since its passage.
- Stop diverting funds from the clean energy fund
- Revise the state energy master plan
- Require New Jersey to reach 100 percent clean renewable energy as soon as possible and no later than 2050
- Establish offshore wind