Public comment began Thursday on the draft version of Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s energy master plan, a widely critiqued road map for sourcing and husbanding power amid global warming for the next two decades and beyond.
ssemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, told the Board of Public Utilities panel that wind power along the Shore and in the state’s interior should be part of a solution for the state’s energy needs.
McKeon was the first to testify on the plan that sets goals of reducing energy consumption at least 20 percent by the year 2020, generating 22.5 percent of the state’s electricity with renewable sources, reducing peak electricity demands and developing new power plants – including possibly nuclear operations.
“We have 10 years not to think about acting, but to act,” said McKeon, chairman of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, adding that sound management of energy resources leads to “economic vitality.”
“That is our natural resource,” McKeon said of wind power, now in use for part of Atlantic City’s energy consumption, with five windmills there.
“This is something that is very environmentally friendly. … It’s an important part of the puzzle,” McKeon said.
In all, 11 onshore wind turbines have been installed since 2001 in the state.
BPU President Jeanne Fox said a number of departments and agencies around New Jersey are studying wind power. “It has to be OK environmentally,” Fox said.
The draft plan calls for 22.5 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable resources by 2020. Wind power may provide as much as 20 percent of that, including at least 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind and 200 megawatts of onshore wind.
Roger Schwarz, on behalf of the Retail Energy Supply Association, said proper pricing signals, where the user knows in the moment what one pays for power, “will enable more and more consumers to use energy wisely.”
“If you don’t believe the effect of real-time price signals, check the recent sales figures for Hummers,” said Schwarz.
“The most critical element for reducing peak demand is to ensure that customers are empowered to know the true costs of energy consumption,” said Jay Kooper, director of regulatory affairs for Hess Corp., the gasoline retailer.
The Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel said the state’s goal should go beyond Corzine’s target – to 40 percent renewable energy by 2025.
“There is tremendous potential, but we have to think out of the box,” he said.
“He has a lot of good ideas,” Fox said after Tittel ticked off ways other states are harnessing energy, such as using macadam parking-lot surfaces to heat water or sound barriers on highways to mount solar panels.
“We cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent, as this EMP (energy master plan) envisions, without significant technological advances,” said Anne Hoskins, vice president of federal affairs and policy at PSEG. “Picture that future energy world. It will require the complete electrification of our means of transportation and the complete decarbonization of our means of producing electricity.”
Matt Elliott of the group Environment New Jersey said the plan “could set ambitious and unprecedented goals by offering a bold, new vision.”
“As it stands,” he said, “it could set modest goals for clean energy and endorse building more of the same dirty and dangerous power plants.”
In the discussion on harnessing wind power, Fox at one point revealed she had been told by a Borgata casino executive that some guests asked for rooms with views of the nearby windmills.
The next and last two public-comment hearings are set for Tuesday in Trenton and Thursday in Glassboro.
By Tom Baldwin
Gannett State Bureau
11 July 2008
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