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New Jersey Legislature Considers Nuclear Power Support

PSEG believes it will have to close its nuclear plants within three years without some form of assistance due to mounting competition from cheap natural gas.

The New Jersey State Legislature held a joint hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee to consider S. 877 to establish a Nuclear Diversity Certificate Program and A-2850 to establish and modify clean energy and energy efficiency programs, establish zero emission certificates program and modify the State's solar renewable energy portfolio standards.

AAEA President Norris McDonald testified at the hearing [full written statement].  AAEA is supporting the legislation and wants Governor Phil Murphy to sign the bill.

 NJ S877, lays out a path for subsidizing the state's nuclear power plants, overhauling the solar program and jump-starting offshore wind development.  Senate President Steve Sweeney is the bill's primary sponsor.  A-2850 is the House version of the Senate bill.

The bill would allow nuclear plant operators to apply for a subsidy from the Board of Public Utilities (BPU). If approved by the BPU, the subsidy would cost roughly $300 million annually. The solar amendment is expected to tack on an extra $423 million annually. There are no estimates yet for provisions related to energy efficiency or offshore wind.

The bill was voted out of committee along party lines, with Democrats largely in favor of the legislation. It was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 8-3 with one abstention. The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee cleared it 5-3.

The subsidy, as well as the provisions related to solar and offshore wind, would be paid for through charges on ratepayers' utility bills. 

The current legislation would require that 35 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2025, and that 50 percent come from renewables by 2050. It also would call on the BPU to outline a method for installing 600 megawatts of energy storage by 2021, and 2,000 megawatts by 2030.  (Politico NJ, "After last-minute revisions, controversial energy bill heads to the Senate floor," By Danielle Muoio)

Norris McDonaldComment