April 6, 2018
Clean-energy measures also voted out, but nuclear bill looms large — particularly when it comes to costs to ratepayers.
After months of contentious debate and false starts, a package of bills increasing the state’s reliance on renewable energy, as well as subsidizing nuclear power plants, won approval yesterday from a pair of legislative committees.
The passage sets the stage for final approval by both houses on Thursday to legislation that likely will impose billions of dollars in new costs on utility customers to support those programs.
If signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy as expected, the measures will begin implementing key parts of the new administration’s clean-energy agenda, while averting the threatened closing of nuclear power plants, operated by Public Service Enterprise Group.
The issues range across multiple trends, roiling the energy sector, including cheap natural gas that has made other conventional sources of electricity less viable (mainly coal and nuclear), along with emerging, competitive sources of cleaner energy, such as solar and wind power.
Prepared to make difficult decisions?
The mounting public demand to address climate change and the difficult choices facing an unregulated energy sector have thrust those decisions before a Legislature largely oblivious of the implications of its actions, according to some. A key provision of the deal calls for subsidizing PSEG’s three nuclear power plants for as long as 10 years at a cost of $300 million annually.
“The proposed nuclear bailout will make it difficult to ramp up a clean-energy future,’’ argued Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, who backed a clean-energy bill.