Powerful 100% renewable energy plan drafted in New Jersey

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As it seems we’ve been doing every couple of weeks all year long, it’s time to update the list of states with 100% renewable mandates, or at least proposals, as the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has released its Draft 2019 Energy Master Plan, a plan which outlines the process to get the state to 100% clean energy by 2050.

Unlike other 100% renewable plans we’ve seen in the past, Draft 2019 is aggressive and immediate. Now this isn’t to say that every action laid out is immediate, but some of the most aggressive ones are, specifically the deployment of 600 MW capacity of energy storage by 2021 and the deployment of 330,000 light-duty electric vehicles on the road by 2025. In the slightly more long-term, the plan calls for both the deployment of 3.5 GW of offshore wind and 2 GW of energy storage capacity by 2030.

But, much like baseball, energy policy is about more than just home runs. The plan is supported by seven central tenants:

  1. Reducing energy consumption and emissions from the transportation sector
  2. Accelerating the deployment of renewable and distributed energy resources
  3. Maximizing energy efficiency and conservation while reducing peak demand
  4. Reducing energy consumption and emissions from the building sector
  5. Modernizing the grid and utility infrastructure
  6. Supporting community energy planning, development for low and moderate income individuals and families
  7. Supporting environmental justice communities and expanding the clean energy innovation economy

And, in addition to the aforementioned home runs the policy has a handful of additionally ambitious goals including the aforementioned 330,000 light-duty electric vehicles goal, increased EV charging infrastructure throughout the state and meeting the state’s 50% x 2030 Renewable Portfolio Standard.

What separates this plan from other 100% RPS or increased renewables bills that we’ve seen nationally is that, while the it is ambitious, it is specific in its ambition. Often we see bills and policies that are lauded as unprecedented in their support of a renewable transition, but once you get into the language of the bill, you see that it does little more than call for the creation of committees to review policy and come up with plans for transitions years down the line, until it feels more like the recognition of an issue existing, rather than a guideline of solutions to said issue.

This was the problem in Maine, where a bill pegged as Maine’s Green New Deal amounted to little more than a workforce development bill for the installation of solar systems at and on public schools. Those actions are nice, but do little to trigger meaningful long-term development.

However, we’re not here to nitpick other states’ energy policies, we’re here to recognize the big deal that this is for New Jersey. Not only does this plan look to make New Jersey a leader in the renewable transition nationally, but the job creation that comes with it will be, to say the least, significant. The final draft from BPU isn’t due until September 16, so the policy could look different between now and then, but for the time being New Jersey has a policy future that is a rare mix of ambitious and substantial.