Science Policy Friday: Planning New Jersey's Energy Future

SciPoliFri_Box.gifThis 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 


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 hearingsthis 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.

So what are some aspects of a strong Energy Master Plan? Here are a few characteristics of a successful plan:

  • Obtains input from policymakers, energy suppliers, utilities, consumers, and other stakeholders
  • Coordinates specific state implementation planning so that it will adhere to the Federal Government's Clean Power Plan's standards and other Federal rules
  • Includes both supply and demand-side requirements
  • Focuses on energy efficiency programs and renewable energy goals
  • Builds upon a record of the past, what was successful and what needs to change
  • Seeks to provide a blueprint for the future, with achievable and specific goals
  • Examines the impact of consumer behavior on energy usage, and how does education and other policymaking modify market and consumer behavior in a beneficial manner

Under the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan, EPA expects US power plant emissions will be 32 percent lower in 2030 than they were in 2005. A significant cut, though still just a tiny piece of what's needed to reduce Climate Changes. The EPA's Clean Power Plan, which was finalized this past Monday, envisions the nation's infrastructure composed of interstate electrical grids that serve as backbones for renewable energy, pollution trading and a carbon cap-and-trade program. The Clean Power Plan creates a new national cap-and-trade program and allows states to trade pollution credits with each other without setting up interstate agreements beforehand.

This hopefully will provide greater urgency for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the northeast, also known as RGGI.  Under the Clean Power Plan, states can switch from coal to natural gas, expand renewables or nuclear, boost energy efficiency, enact carbon's up to them. However, states must submit their plans by 2016-2018, start cutting by 2022 at the latest, and keep cutting through 2030.  If New Jersey fails to produce our own plan in compliance with the Clean Power Plan, we may be forced by the federal government into a program of its design.

Our efforts to combat climate change demonstrate that no challenge is too great when America's technological know-how and optimism are put to the test. I encourage you to come share your thoughts on the Energy Master Plan at the upcoming Board of Public Utility hearings.   Our collective input can result in a greener, more healthy and prosperous New Jersey.

New Jersey Energy Master Plan Open Public Hearings:

Date: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 
Location: Seton Hall Law School 
1109 Raymond Boulevard, Newark, NJ 
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Date: Thursday, August 13, 2015 
Location: State House Annex, Committee Room 11 
125 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Date: Monday, August 17, 2015 
Location: The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Campus Center 
101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway, NJ 08205 
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Anyone who plans to attend must register beforehand.  You can register by emailing[email protected] and please, be sure to indicate your name, township residence and whether you plan to testify.

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