On behalf of our member companies that provide more than 1 million jobs in the state and make the New Jersey Business & Industry Association the largest statewide business association in the country, we are submitting the following comments on the Development of the State’s Offshore Wind Strategic Plan.
NJBIA supports Governor Murphy’s objective in diversifying our energy portfolio and seeking to expand an industry in New Jersey. While seeking to achieve this objective, NJBIA requests the BPU keep at the forefront of its consideration the impact to all ratepayers in the state, as the solicitation of offshore wind is just one of several new energy projects under consideration or signed into law in 2018.
As NJBIA has noted in previous comments and testimony related to the proposed offshore wind energy plan, New Jersey currently has the highest electric rates in our grid and the 12th highest in the country. The commercial and industrial ratepayer consumes 64 percent of the electricity in New Jersey and has a vested interest in the development of energy policy, the implications on competitiveness and ratepayer impact. Currently, 24 percent of the electric bill is from government imposed taxes and fees. NJBIA has been involved in this discussion for many years and seeks to balance the environment with the economic impacts to ratepayers. We applaud the efforts of the Governor and legislative leaders for their vision on this topic and continuing the dialog regarding wind power.
As the cost of this investment will ultimately be recovered from ratepayers who are already paying among the highest prices in the nation, the BPU should ensure that its process for soliciting and selecting bids for offshore wind energy considers the economic impact of those projects on ratepayers and any indirect effects they may have on the market as a whole.
Furthermore, given the uncertainty of the impacts of such large investments, NJBIA recommends that BPU develop a clear and detailed outline of the state’s plan to reach its goal of 3,500 MW of offshore wind energy by 2030. Such a plan would detail a timeline for additional procurements, specify the size of future project solicitations, and provide additional information about how the state intends to attract future investment and development.
Job creation and industry expansion should be considered in the cost/benefit analysis. We request the NJBPU evaluate not only job creation during project installment, but jobs sustained after the installation of the projects. Additionally, an evaluation of New Jersey’s current workforce possessing the skills necessary to build these projects should be evaluated.
Furthermore, we encourage the NJBPU to aggressively attract new business lines to New Jersey to support the creation of the wind industry not just in New Jersey, but on the East Coast.
It is impossible to know what our energy needs or landscape will look like in 20 years, let alone 30 years’ time. We continue to request that you consider the following matters related to this long-term policy:
- What is the cost benefit analysis for ratepayers to subsidy this type of power?
- How much will this new energy source cost businesses in increased rates?
- How many potential jobs will be lost as energy prices continue to rise?
- How many jobs will be gained as a result of this project?
- Are there other alternatives that could meet our policy goals while protecting ratepayers?
- How can New Jersey ensure, through workforce development strategies, that we have the skilled labor to manufacture and install the wind projects in order to capture these jobs within New Jersey versus the need to utilize talent from other states, let alone other countries?
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments and request a strong analysis of cost to the ratepayer be examined as the development of the State’s Offshore Wind Strategic Plan moves forward. Thank you for your consideration of our comments.