It was a bill that seemingly made sense for any owner of a home or building. It was timely. And it had bipartisan sponsorship.
Yet S-2671 – which would prohibit any state mandate of electric heating or water heating systems in a home or building without a full cost estimate from the state Department of Community Affairs – was quietly pulled from the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee this week.
NJBIA Deputy Chief of Government Affairs Ray Cantor said having the legislation removed from the board list was a disappointment because it asked the essential questions needed to pursue building electrification policies – as Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan envisions all-electrification means for New Jersey to reach 100% clean energy by 2050.
“The answers being required by this legislation are exactly the answers that should have first been provided before the State published its 2019 Energy Master Plan that called for an all-electrification policy as part of our decarbonization efforts,” Cantor said.
“Rather than doing the comprehensive analysis as would be required by this legislation, the EMP merely sought to meet an artificial deadline of 2050 to achieve net zero carbon emissions and chose the ‘least cost’ manner to do so. But ‘least cost’ does not mean affordable, nor does it mean reliable or even effective.
“The EMP purposefully avoided the issues of affordability and reliability. Through this legislation, those issues would be back on the table.”
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Vin Gopal (D-11) and Holly Schepisi (D-39). An Assembly version of the bill also has bi-partisan sponsorship.
In a statement released by the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, who also supported the bill, Gopal said: “New Jersey residents have made it crystal clear that affordability is a priority, and we owe it to them to be transparent and lower their energy costs, not increase them. We must continue to do everything possible to make sure there is transparency around any type of mandates and our legislation does that as it relates to electric mandates.”
Cantor said the pursuit of only using all electric power in New Jersey will not only be unaffordable, but also not effective in reducing carbon.
“Recently the DEP proposed, and then decided not to adopt, a rule that would have mandated the electrification of commercial boilers,” Cantor said. “Part of the reason the rule was not adopted is because when calculating the carbon emissions from the PJM grid, which uses coal as a power source, the rule would have resulted in a net increase in emissions.
“Thus, electrification, while an option in some cases, is not a panacea for our decarbonization policies. We have other options to pursue such as lower carbon CNG, renewable natural gas, green and blue hydrogen, and technologies that are yet undiscovered. Locking the State into 2050 goals by mandating 2020 technologies will condemn us to a costly and unreliable energy future will little to show for it.”