NJ Rate Counsel Urges State to Consider Customer Cost of EMP: We Agree

Michael Butler | November 4, 2019 | Sponsored Content
Rate impacts of New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan are not being seriously considered for families, businesses and industrial electricity customers
Michael Butler, Mid-Atlantic Director for Consumer Energy Alliance

As New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel director Stefanie Brand said, “Modeling being carried out by a state utility board consultant on how to achieve the state’s clean energy goals must include a rate impact analysis for residential, commercial and industrial electricity customers.”

Right now, it doesn’t.

That’s a risky proposition for New Jersey’s families and businesses because the state’s Energy Master Plan (EMP) currently follows the wish lists of extreme energy activists instead of asking what the cost is.

“The rate impacts of the various scenarios that are being modeled are of utmost importance,” Brand recently said in comments filed with the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which is taking comments on the draft plan. One component of that is the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), a modeling exercise carried out by the consultant, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

What’s even riskier is the fact that the IEP won’t be finished before the public comment period for the BPU closes. If that happens, no one in New Jersey will be able to comment about the cost of the plan, a fact Consumer Energy Alliance and six other groups representing most aspects of our state’s economy, highlighted in a recent letter to the BPU’s president.

New Jersey’s residents should also be aware of who the consultant is, what their motivations are, and their funding by ideologically-driven billionaires who collectively oppose natural gas — many of whom have business interests in the adoption of clean energy technology.

The RMI knows full well what the cost of a clean energy policy looks like because they shelled out $1,900 apiece for 70 heated chairs for their employees.

Why? Not for luxury, but because part of their formula for getting to 100% clean energy means reducing demand. RMI decided not to include central heating in their alpine Colorado headquarters, so they have to instead heat each employee through the kind of chair usually found in luxury cars.

While we applaud the ingenuity — and the hardiness and commitment of employees who can tolerate inside temperatures as low as 64 degrees and as high as 82 degrees — we cannot endorse that kind of extreme thinking for families and businesses who need affordable energy.

So when the RMI is preparing economic modeling that doesn’t include a cost analysis for customers, be they residential or commercial, we have to wonder what they don’t want us to know.

There are two things we do know already, though, without any help from billionaire-funded think tanks.

One, the lack of adequate natural gas supply in New Jersey has already contributed to us having the 11th highest electricity bills in America.

And two, New Jersey should be wary of energy policy advice emanating from an institution that thinks $1,900 heated chairs are a creative solution to staying warm in the winter.

Michael Butler is Mid-Atlantic Director for Consumer Energy Alliance.