Op-Ed: Murphy Keeps His Promises on Environment — Let’s Stay the Course

Ed Potosnak | April 2, 2019 | Opinion
Governor has been delivering on his commitment to make New Jersey the greenest state in the country. He 'walks the talk’ on clean energy

Ed Potosnak
Gov. Phil Murphy had a banner year on clean, renewable energy — keeping his word to voters in the Garden State. His promise to make New Jersey an environmental leader once again shows that the governor not only talks the talk but walks the walk on making the New Jersey the greenest state in America.

As a gubernatorial candidate, Phil Murphy first announced his commitment to a cleaner and greener New Jersey at a New Jersey League of Conservation Voters endorsement event in 2017. We applauded his pledge to move our state to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

Since coming into office, the governor has been delivering on this commitment, taking action just weeks ago to join the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multistate East Coast collaboration advancing market-based solutions that create a clean, equitable and efficient transportation system. Our state is in desperate need of such an initiative — the transportation sector is the single largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in New Jersey. We are pleased to see Gov. Murphy put his vision for a fossil fuel-free New Jersey into action, showing that he “walks the talk” to make New Jersey a stronger, fairer, and cleaner state.

Most notably, the administration’s ambitious clean-energy goals have catalyzed offshore-wind production, a yet untapped renewable natural resource in New Jersey, with the largest statutory commitment to offshore wind in America.

Soon after taking office, Gov. Murphy signed Executive Order 8 directing the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which had been shelved by the Christie administration, breathing life into this desperately needed industry. New Jersey began the important work of making a reality of 3,500 megawatts of offshore-wind energy generation by the year 2030. The BPU hit the ground running in soliciting and accepting bids for the first 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind, which represents the largest single-state offshore-wind solicitation to date in the United States. Additionally, the BPU plans to open two additional solicitations for 1,200 megawatts in the coming years.

Optimism on offshore wind

The BPU’s development of the Offshore Wind Strategic Plan includes reducing costs to ratepayers with scales of economy, creating good local and union jobs, such as for making the foundations, towers and steelwork needed for the wind infrastructure. The plan will ensure local supply chains are utilized, and the workforce is trained for the construction, delivery, installation, interconnection and long-term maintenance of the large turbines. Further, the Murphy administration remains committed to ensuring that natural resources, wildlife, tourism, and commercial fishing are protected throughout the development and operational stages of offshore-wind energy production.

There is reason for optimism. New Jersey is destined for success as we build an offshore-wind market which has attracted worldwide companies to the state’s large wind targets, as well as a geography perfect for offshore-wind energy production.

Gov. Murphy and the BPU are setting critical market conditions to harness investment by wind-energy businesses that will enable the offshore-wind industry to thrive, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the quick progress in this area.

Of course, moving to a 100 percent clean-energy future will take financial resources, and fortunately New Jersey has a special fund set up to spur renewable innovation called the “Clean Energy Fund.” Funds can be deployed to level out demand during peaks, advancing energy-efficiency programs, expanding renewable energy like offshore wind, and providing consumer rebates for energy-efficient appliances. We’ve seen ratepayer money from this fund diverted to too many unrelated government expenses. Therefore, we thank Gov. Murphy for weaning the state from the practice of diversion and committing to restoring $70 million from the Clean Energy Fund to be used for its intended purpose.

Join us in celebrating Gov. Murphy’s efforts to combat climate change and improve public health by quickly moving away from fossil fuels. We are confident that with continued public support for this important work — and the governor’s commitments and track record — this state will become the greenest state in America. New Jersey’s clean-energy future and the health of families and businesses depend on it.