The following bills are up in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee Monday:
Volkswagen Settlement S3029 (Smith) directs the Department of Environmental Protection to establish and fund with moneys from the "Volkswagen Settlement Utilization Fund for Motor Vehicle Emissions Reduction and Air Pollution Control.” These funds can only be used for activities pertaining to electric vehicles and reducing pollution from automobiles. This includes promoting EV’s, building charging infrastructure, reducing diesel admissions in ports, and more.
“This bill needs to be amended because we cannot support the bill in its current form. The goal of the bill should be funding a plug-in network for EV’s, electric busses, and other things to move us towards the zero-emissions goals in our Clean Car Law. In order to mitigate for Volkswagen’s fraud and excess pollution, all of the funds has to go towards zero-emission goals not to truckers to buy diesel gas in ports. All the funds should be going to promote electric vehicles and plug-in technology. None of it should be going towards diesel. We can also use it to promote EV busses in urban areas and create charging stations across the state,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Renewable Energy S772 (Smith) requires electric public utilities to enter long-term contracts for certain renewable energy. Contracts would be between ten and twenty years duration for the purchase of Class I renewable energy certificates.
“This is a good bill because it would allow long-term contracts for renewable energy. It would help wind and solar development in New Jersey because these contracts would give assurance to the market and allow financing. This is even more important for wind and making it a reality off our coast since the Christie Administration has yet to put forward financial rules for turbine development. We support transitioning New Jersey to renewable energy,” said Jeff Tittel.
RGGI S3059 (Sweeney) requires the State's full participation in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Governor Christie pulled us out of RGGI without consulting the Legislature.
“People in New Jersey demand action on climate change. We have seen the impacts of climate change firsthand and rejoining RGGI is the first step towards a greener future. RGGI worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 million tons and created 1,800 green jobs in the state. The money collected from RGGI went out to help environmental programs, expand renewable energy, create jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and help middle class families save money on their electric bills,” said Jeff Tittel.
Zero Emissions S3062 (Smith) allows 50 percent credit against societal benefits charge to electric or gas public utility customers who install and maintain publicly available zero emission vehicle charging stations.
“We need to get electric vehicles moving in New Jersey and this bill would give incentives for buisnesses and others to build charging stations. Ideally, we need charging stations at every corner of the state. We need more electric vehicles to be sold here and more incentives for consumers. New Jersey has some of the worst air quality in the nation, with most of the pollution coming from automobiles. Electric vehicles will be able to save people money on gas, reduce air pollution, while promoting jobs and a green economy,” said Jeff Tittel. “People like this new technology that is cheaper and more green however there is ‘range anxiety.’ This is why we need a network of charging stations statewide to make people more comfortable with buying and using these electric vehicles.”
Zero Emissions Study S3061 (Bateman) requires BPU to conduct study concerning zero emission credits.
“We oppose this bill because the New Jersey Sierra Club has always opposed direct credits and subsidies for nuclear power plants. This is because we strongly believe that it undermines renewable energy. In the past, we have fought against, and won, bills that included nuclear as Class 1 or Class 2 Renewable Energy. These credits would take money from renewable energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal and instead promote nuclear power plants. The construction of these plants already received billions of dollars of subsidies when they were constructed, and now they want more.
“We are concerned that if the nuclear plants in New Jersey were to close now or in the near future, they would unfortunately be replaced with natural gas. Therefore, this is a problem that we need to look at but we must do so in a larger context. We should be moving New Jersey towards a 100% renewable goal by 2050 and nuclear power is not renewable. We also need make sure that when these nuclear plants retire, we have a plan to replace them with renewable energy. We could also re-enter and expand RGGI and have a carbon tax. We should be looking at how to block fossil fuels and make our state 100% zero emission carbon by 2035 and 100% renewable by 2050,” said Jeff Tittel.
Energy Storage Analysis S3064 (Smith) requires BPU to conduct energy storage analysis.
“It’s good to have an analysis but we need to start moving forward with programs and funding to make it a reality,” said Jeff Tittel.
LED Lights S3060 (Smith) requires municipalities, public utilities, and State to use LED technology in certain street lights.
LED Traffic Lights S3063 (Greenstein) allows 50 percent credit against societal benefits charge to local governments that utilize traffic signals that use light emitting diode (LED) technology.
“We support these bills because LED lights are a good way to reduce energy usage and support energy efficiency. This will also save towns money in the long-term on because LED’s are 80% cheaper to run and the bulbs last longer,” said Jeff Tittel.
We also support the following bills that work to increase smart thermostat usage in New Jersey:
S3065 (Smith) provides gross income tax credit for costs to purchase and install smart thermostats.
S3066 (Sarlo) requires installation of smart thermostats in all new residential construction.
SR110 (Smith) urges BPU to adopt goal to equip 500,000 homes with energy-saving smart thermostats by 2023.
“Having smart meters and thermostats will encourage people to wash dishes or run their laundry at off-peak times. You can wash dishes at 6 pm during peak time or do it at a non-peak time such as 6 am or 10 pm and pay only a third as much. This not only saves consumers money, but decreases demand on the grid and reduces air pollution and greenhouse gasses. Having smart thermostats is a smart idea,” said Jeff Tittel. Also getting rid of thermostats with mercury which is dangerous to health and environment.
It costs 38 cents/kilowatt to wash dishes at 6:00 pm versus 8 cents/kilowatt at off-peak times like 10:00 pm.
Caps Transmission Lines SR96 (Smith) urges Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to impose cost caps on electric transmission projects.
“We support this resolution because we keep building unnecessary powerlines. All these lines do is enrich the pockets of the utilities at the expense of the consumers and environment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.