A Master Plan for N.J.’s Energy Needs

The final version of Gov. Chris Christie’s master plan on energy for New Jersey is in, reflecting only minimal tweaks since a draft was released over the summer.

A solar panel installed in Fair Lawn, N.J.  A master plan calls for 22.5 percent of the state's electricity to be generated from renewable energy by 2021, down from the previous administration’s goal of 30 percent.Juan Arredondo for The New York TimesA solar panel installed in Fair Lawn, N.J.  A master plan calls for 22.5 percent of the state’s electricity to be generated from renewable energy by 2021, down from the previous administration’s goal of 30 percent.

The plan is not binding, but sets forth the Republican governor’s vision of how the state will meet its electricity needs over the next decade. It scales back New Jersey’s goals for renewable energy, calling for 22.5 percent of electricity to be generated from such sources by 2021, down from the previous administration’s goal of 30 percent.

Governor Christie had called the lower amount more realistic. On Tuesday, he said that the plan would manage the state’s energy needs in a way that saves money, creates jobs and protects the environment.

“This plan represents my administration’s commitment to changing the way we produce, distribute and use energy as part of a broader emphasis on renewable sources of energy and economic growth,” he said in a written statement.

The plan recommends some changes to help stabilize the market for the state’s solar incentive program, which has made New Jersey one of the top states in solar power capacity. But environmentalists and some state legislators are still smarting over the scaling back of renewable energy goals and a decision by the governor earlier this year to withdraw New Jersey from a regional trading system – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – that provides participating states with hundreds of millions of dollars for investments in clean energy and energy efficiency projects.

“The previous Energy Master Plan, which included New Jersey as a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, created thousands of good-paying jobs as it moved us toward a renewable future,” said John F. McKeon, a Democrat who is chairman of the state Assembly’s Environment and Public Waste Committee. He called the final plan “regressive” and “shortsighted” and said it would prolong the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The plan puts a greater emphasis on electricity powered by natural gas, which has become an issue in parts of the Northeast because of the increasing use of a controversial extraction process known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Although New Jersey, unlike New York, will not undergo such drilling because it lacks natural gas reserves, it is seeking to build three new plants powered by natural gas.

The state has set an overall goal of meeting 70 percent of its electricity needs with clean energy sources, but it defines such sources not just as renewables but also nuclear power, natural gas and hydroelectric plants.

The energy master plan is subject to revisions at least once every three years.

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 8 December, 2011.

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