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NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor issued this statement following the state Board of Public Utilities’ approval of a mandated building electrification policy on utilities today, which will result in higher costs for ratepayers. 

“Today’s approval by the BPU shifts the cost of an ineffective building electrification policy onto the backs of ratepayers who already pay some of the highest electric rates in the nation.   

“It also does nothing to address those costs, or the efficacy and reliability of these electrification plans.  

“The state’s efforts to lower carbon emissions are laudable. However, on a fundamental level, a 100% building electrification policy is not the best approach for several important reasons. First, there has been no comprehensive planning or investment in either the transmission or generation systems adequate to support a massive building electrification policy.  

“Secondly, there are other, and perhaps less costly and more efficient options, to decarbonize our building sector. And, finally, electrification is not carbon-free, and in the short term may even result in more carbon emissions. 

“It is irresponsible for the state to move ahead with new sources of demand and hope that the grid and generation capacities will be there. An energy failure means that our lives stop, people’s health and wellbeing are at risk, and businesses cease operation. We are already seeing the potential for brownouts and blackouts from existing demands, as we saw from the PJM warning this past winter. 

“We maintain there are other alternatives to building electrification that the BPU should consider. We already have an extensive network of gas infrastructure that can be utilized by converting to less carbon intensive fuels such as renewable natural gas and hydrogen. While these technologies still need further development, they will be commercially feasible in a short period of time.  

“There is no need to rush to electrification. While boilers and other equipment may have useful lives for 10 – 20 years or so, the amount of carbon reduction during an early electrification mandate is inconsequential compared to the overall goals. It is better to get it right, than get it first. 

“We also remain unaware of any statutory authority for the BPU to use its regulatory and rate authority to compel public utilities to initiate programs to enforce building electrification. The seeming merger of the energy efficiency program and the building electrification policy is concerning to us.  

“These are separate policies with separate metrics and should be treated as such. The BPU should not seek to cover the cost of building electrification by hiding it in rates through the efficiency program. Transparency should result in the best public policy.”