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Chrissy Buteas

Christine Buteas, Chief Government Affairs Officer

BPU Joins National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium

On June 21, the state of New Jersey announced its intention to join the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium as a board member and public sponsor. The $18.5 million consortium is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

BPU Begins Process to Close Current SREC Market

On June 22, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved a rule beginning the process of closing the current Solar Renewable Energy Credit program, and developing a new sustainable program that will grow solar generation in the state.

BPU Approves OSW Selection; Comments Due July 26

On June 29, the BPU approved the selection of a leading firm to provide strategic planning and analysis to the Offshore Wind Strategic Plan. The Department of the Treasury will review and approve a winning bidder. The approved consultant will help to set standards needed to achieve the initial goal of 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy capacity.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 19 and public comments are due by July 26.  The following topics are included for comment.  Please send your feedback to me at cbuteas@njbia.org.

  • How should BPU stagger/phase in New Jersey’s offshore wind procurements to realize the state’s goal of 3,500 megawatts. Should this schedule be announced before any solicitations are released?
  • How should the BPU structure the initial solicitation for 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind capacity as called for under EO8?
  • Should the BPU request proposals scaled at 1,100 megawatts, or should the BPU request proposals in smaller blocks of capacity (i.e. 400 megawatts)?
  • How may a solicitation be structured to ensure strong competition from multiple OSW developers?
  • What conditions should be included to ensure maximum competition in terms of OREC Price?
  • OWEDA requires the OREC Price to be an all-in price that includes the full cost of the construction, operation and decommissioning of the project with all revenues being refunded to ratepayers. What measures can be included in project proposals to optimize all revenues over the life of the project?
  • OWEDA requires that offshore wind developers demonstrate a net economic benefit for the state. How should the BPU ensure net economic benefits in order to be able to compare applications?
  • What other elements should BPU consider including in the 1,100 megawatt offshore wind solicitation called for under EO8 (e.g. storage, other adjunct technologies)?
  • Should the BPU request bids for expandable, nondiscriminatory, open-access offshore transmission facilities for the efficient delivery of power to the onshore transmission system?

Water Tax Legislation Introduced; Feedback Requested

On June 27, Senator Bob Smith (D-17) introduced the Water Resources Protection Trust Fund Act (S-2805). This bill would establish a Water Resource Protection Trust Fund, funded by a water consumption user fee imposed on every public community water system ($0.40 per 1,000 gallons of water delivered), and a water diversion user fee imposed on every person required by law to obtain a diversion permit or a water use registration ($0.40 per 1,000 gallons of water diverted). The fund would be used for water quality, supply, and infrastructure projects.

Your feedback on this bill would be greatly appreciated by July 15. For this, or any other questions regarding these recent updates, please contact me at cbuteas@njbia.org.

Seeking Your Feedback on Natural Resource Damages  

This summer, I will also be working with other stakeholders in a workgroup assembled by Senate Environment Committee Chairman Senator Bob Smith (D-17) to make recommendations concerning possible legislation related to natural resources damages (NRD) in New Jersey. I am seeking your feedback on any and all of the issues that I anticipate will be discussed during this process in July.
NRD are damages the state seeks to collect through litigation when a business or corporation has caused natural resources to be harmed, typically via the release of hazardous substances. These damages are supposed to be used for repairing damaged sites, but have historically been diverted to the general fund for other purposes. A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2017 requires that NRD collections now be dedicated to a separate fund from the general fund where they can only be used for restoring contaminated properties.
In the coming weeks, the workgroup is expected to consider the following questions related to NRD:

  • How should groundwater contamination be addressed?
  • Should there be a preference for restoration of natural resources (or an assessment of monetary damages equal to the cost of restoration) or damages that put a monetary value on the resource that has been harmed?
  • Will the policy choices provide incentives to recalcitrant parties to clean up?  Will the policy choices promote behavior or precautions to prevent environmental injuries or the performance of prompt cleanups?
  • Should liability for natural resource damages be imposed for discharges that
    occurred before the “Spill Compensation and Control Act” or other relevant state laws were passed?  Should damages be imposed when the activity, such as filling wetlands with clean fill, was legal and, in fact, encouraged?
  • Should there be a preference for the use of outside counsel or the Attorney General’s Office to bring the state’s natural resource damage cases.  If an outside counsel is used, what is fair compensation for that counsel?
  • How are other states addressing natural resource damages?
  • How should the state use constitutionally dedicated moneys from natural resource damage settlements?

Your feedback on any or all of these questions would be greatly appreciated by Monday, July 9, 2018.  Please contact me at cbuteas@njbia.org.

 

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