Enough talking. It’s time to deliver affordable and reliable energy to New Jersey - Garden State Initiative



Enough talking. It’s time to deliver affordable and reliable energy to New Jersey

Regina M. Egea & Dianne Solomon    |   September 18, 2023   |   As Seen In Gannett/USA Today Network


For years, there has been a small group of voices questioning the true cost to ratepayers of implementing Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan. The state Board of Public Utilities has awarded billions of dollars in contracts and subsidies to fund the development of alternative energy sources like solar and offshore wind, with no idea of what the final cost will be. Until recently, the state’s legislative majority has stood idly by as the state Ratepayer Advocate has been shouted down and the NJBPU advances their agenda unabated.

Republicans primarily have been willing to question these costs, thus enabling supporters of — and those who will profit from — the EMP to paint this as a partisan issue. Recent weeks have seen sudden new converts across the aisle to the cause of transparency who are now voicing their concerns about utility costs as well.

Welcome to the fight.

Amid rising public concern over the costs, Democratic candidates challenging Republican incumbents in South Jersey’s 3rd legislative district called on the NJBPU to reject a plan aimed at phasing out the use of gas stoves, noting a lack of transparency on the cost of such a transition to Garden State residents.

More significantly earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Nick Scutari issued a joint statement questioning the NJBPU’s actions related to offshore wind development, noting that “There are still many unanswered questions about the economic impact these projects will have on ratepayers as well as potential impacts to one of our state’s largest economic drivers, tourism at the shore.”

Gov. Murphy has waved off these concerns and the NJBPU has continued to move forward. The Garden State Initiative’s August 2021 research report, “New Jersey’s Energy Future: At What Cost to You?” raised those same concerns nearly two years to the day before the legislative leaders’ statement, and questioned the lack of transparency over the cost to ratepayers and the impact on our shore economy.

The timing of the Speaker and Senate President’s comments, coming just weeks before an election when all 120 members of the legislature are on the ballot, should not just raise eyebrows. More concerning ought to be the lack of any acknowledgement or acceptance of responsibility of their role less than two months ago when these same leaders rushed a bill through their respective chambers in a party-line vote, to provide hundreds of millions in tax breaks to Orsted, a foreign company leading wind efforts in our state. Examining how current legislators have voted on this issue could not be more essential to understand your choices on this year’s ballot. Anyone asking for your vote, and his or her commitment to you, will be the only way ratepayers will be represented in New Jersey’s energy future.

This is one of those rare moments in New Jersey when the interests of policy-makers on both sides of the aisle align and it is their opportunity to act on their recent words to seek energy solutions that are affordable, reliable and sustainable.

There are numerous pieces of legislation pending in Trenton that will rein in the ability of the NJPBU to proceed without completing thorough studies of the economic impact and the final cost to New Jersey’s ratepayers.

Only the Assembly Speaker and Senate President can advance those bills for votes in the legislature. Clearly, there is now a broad, veto-proof bipartisan coalition who can bring transparency and accountability to the NJBPU.

Ratepayers and voters need Legislators who will deliver on their commitments.

Dianne Solomon served as commissioner and president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Regina M. Egea is president of the Garden State Initiative.