In light of climate change and the need to reduce emissions, the Murphy administration has prioritized green technology and renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Despite their clear promise, however, neither technology is currently ready to meet New Jersey’s energy needs nor fill the void as plans continue to proliferate to shut down gas and nuclear plants in the state.
Yet there is a solution that will stabilize our energy supply, grow our economy, and reduce emissions: Natural gas must be a part of our energy mix moving forward to act as a “bridge” fuel until renewables are ready to shoulder this burden.
Renewable technologies are an essential component in the fight against climate change, and they can certainly create jobs in green tech, installation and construction. At the moment, however, they cannot meet our energy needs in New Jersey, which risks significant negative impacts or even a full-blown crisis that will hurt the most vulnerable residents of our state.
In order to meet our existing needs with solar power, we would need to bulldoze an area the size of more than half of New York City — or all of Passaic County — and cover it with solar panels. That’s 181 square miles of our state, covered only in solar panels. Similarly, wind technology struggles to provide nonstop power at times of peak demand and will not be online in New Jersey until at least 2030. We can’t afford to wait that long.
Failing to secure a sufficient energy supply — one that encourages economic growth, development and business investment — would be disastrous for all New Jerseyans. A moratorium on natural gas, for example, would prevent the state, municipalities and developers from building new affordable housing and would discourage businesses from investing in our state. Yet many narrow-minded special interests would like to ban natural gas and even carbon-free nuclear energy moving forward.
These economic impacts would immediately hinder any positive momentum the state has generated in the wake of the recession. Even worse, energy-supply constraints would jeopardize our seniors, low-income families and middle-class residents alike by significantly raising energy bills, creating power shortages and rolling blackouts and making it harder to live and work in the state. That’s a lose-lose for New Jersey, and one that neither the state nor its residents can afford.
Natural gas, on the other hand, was essential to helping our national economy grow 10% under the Obama administration while simultaneously lowering emissions by the same amount.
That’s why we must prioritize a smart, balanced and affordable energy mix for New Jersey that will create jobs and help our economy grow. That means natural gas, wind, solar and other alternative sources of energy, along with other investments to make our grid more efficient and effective and improve energy transmission.