New Jersey is the second largest producer of solar energy in the nation; trailing only California. But the state’s new Energy Master Plan has put that standing in jeopardy.
Governor Chris Christie said the state would scale back the previous 30 percent renewable energy goal to a “more realistic” 22.5 percent. NJ Spotlight reported Christie said the plan would provide more affordable energy costs in a state with the fourth-highest electric rates in the country. But the plan suggests a pilot program to build nearly 2,000 megawatts of new natural gas capacity in New Jersey, a program that would be hurt by federal regulators.
According to the Sierra Club, fossil fuel use in New Jersey will be expanded, there will be cuts to the Societal Benefits Charge and nuclear power will increase. Jeff Tittel, the Sierra Club Director, said “New Jersey is going from a national clean energy leader to a state that sides with fossil fuels and nuclear over the environment and economy. Governor Christie is being fossil foolish."
The Sierra Club complained that Christie eliminated the Office of Climate Change from the Department of Environmental Protection and recently pulled out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Solarindustrymag.com reports that because of federal incentives and supportive state policies, New Jersey now supports about 9,000 solar panels totaling 330.5 megawatts.
But Public Service Electric and Gas’ campaign to install 180,000 solar panels on utility poles along residential streets did not go over well with residents of Ridgewood. Ridgewood and three other nearby towns considered them ugly, and feared the panels could interfere with fire boxes on the poles.
According to the Huffington Post, Rutgers University’s long-term goal is to see 60 percent of its Livingston campus powered by its existing seven-acre solar farm and a new 32-acre solar canopy set to be completed next summer. School officials said the new canopy system can generate over $1 million a year in electrical power.