Affordable Energy for New Jersey has been calling on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to stop hiding the costs of the Energy Master Plan and to tell the public the truth. Last month, after years of pushing from concerned stakeholders, the NJBPU’s consultant, the Brattle Group, released the preliminary findings of the long-awaited cost study, and the outcomes are as expected — unfortunate for the wallets of New Jersey ratepayers.
According to Brattle, New Jersey utility customers eventually can save money on energy, but only after they spend thousands of dollars to completely electrify their homes or businesses and upgrade to an electric vehicle — a cost that most residents and businesses cannot afford. If you heat and cook with natural gas, that means removing your furnace, hot water, dryer and stove, and replacing them with new electric-powered equivalents. AENJ has conducted extensive research into the EMP’s costs and found that this misguided policy will cost a family of four more than $200,000. If you spend between $30,000 and $50,000 to electrify their homes plus another sum between $40,000 and $50,000 for an electric car by 2030, they will only save $1,500 a year on their energy bill. This is far less than the NJBPU would like you to believe.
Additionally, if you can’t afford to completely revamp your homes and businesses to conform to these initiatives, a cost the study fails to outline, your energy bills are going to rise faster under the EMP. Let’s be honest: These supposed “green” policies aren’t the social justice initiatives the state would like you to believe. These are policies that hurt our state’s most vulnerable residents— and require massive out-of-pocket expenses only the rich can afford.
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These preliminary findings from Brattle and the NJBPU fail to take into consideration the burden that complete electrification will have on New Jersey residents and businesses. Not only will it drain their pockets at a time when we should be helping them get back on their feet financially, it poses massive disruptions to both homeowners and businesses. In fact, it will force many businesses to shut their doors while they make the switch.
Despite the lack of clarity on the exact costs of full electrification, the administration continues to react to radical groups calling on a moratorium on all fossil fuel projects. New Jersey is not prepared to cover the energy shortfalls that would come as a result of banning these projects. We do not have the infrastructure in place to continue to provide safe and reliable energy without these projects. For the sake of our residents and businesses, we cannot write off the already established cost-effective solutions, such as natural gas, as we move toward a cleaner energy sector. The reliability of our grid will depend on it.
Advocating for a complete overhaul is not the solution. Our current energy mix is strong — and with some fine tuning, it will chart a course for success that brings New Jersey into the future without bankrupting our residents. Expanding existing transmission and distribution systems and increasing access to clean, affordable natural gas, will lower costs across the board, freeing up capital to invest in the nuclear, wind and solar goals as outlined in the Energy Master Plan and lowering costs for residents and businesses when they need it most.
New Jersey’s energy future must focus on affordability, reliability and feasibility while addressing climate change. The electrification mandates in the EMP, and as outlined in the NJBPU’s preliminary report, will saddle New Jersey families and businesses with tens of thousands in new upfront costs — in addition to higher utility costs and tax bills.
Ron Morano is the executive director of Affordable Energy for New Jersey.