Today Tom Gilbert, campaign director for ReThink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation Foundation, testified on the State of New Jersey’s Draft 2019 Energy Master Plan, which provides an initial blueprint for the total conversion of the state’s energy profile to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
TRENTON, NJ (July 17, 2019) — “Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Tom Gilbert and I am campaign director for Rethink Energy NJ, a campaign seeking to advance New Jersey’s transition away from polluting fossil fuels to a clean energy future.
We commend the Board and staff for your transformative vision reflected in the draft plan to put New Jersey firmly on the path to 100% clean energy by 2050 through a smart combination of accelerating deployment of renewables, maximizing energy efficiency and reducing emissions from the transportation and building sectors.
The Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) that you are developing will identify pathways that meet or exceed the Global Warming Response Act targets in a way that minimizes costs and ensures reliability. Each pathway will specify a combination of clean energy resources and technologies — such as solar, wind, flexible load and storage — that meet emissions goals by 2050. We should with technologies that make sense today. As new technologies develop and costs change, the planning process will help us stay on an evolving low cost, reliable path to success, despite an unpredictable future.
Similar studies done in other states have shown that deep decarbonization can best be achieved through a regional mix of the right clean energy resources in the right places, and at a lower cost than business-as-usual, gas-heavy scenarios.
As the plan recognizes, a mix of clean energy resources will also bring enormous economic benefits to the state by creating good, local jobs and spurring new industries. A recent report by E2 found that there are already 52,000 clean energy jobs statewide in areas including solar, clean vehicles manufacturing, and energy efficiency. New Jersey’s clean-energy economy employs more workers than UPS, Walmart, and Verizon combined, with the potential for significant growth thanks to the Murphy Administration’s policies.
Importantly, the plan recognizes the grave threat of climate change and the need for swift action and state leadership to rapidly reduce global warming emissions locally, nationally and globally. Toward that end, it should make it crystal clear that further investments in unneeded, polluting natural gas infrastructure are inconsistent with the clean energy goals and decarbonized future it embraces and instead put the right policies and incentives in place to steer the state forward on the reliable, low-cost clean energy pathway that the IEP will help discover.
Climate science strongly suggests that it will be necessary to go beyond reducing GHG emissions to zero to prevent the worst risks of climate change — we will also need to find ways to permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere. That means New Jersey should set a goal of reaching negative emissions by 2050, rather than a goal of being carbon neutral.
While such long term goals are important, it is critical that the current EMP focus first on eliminating today’s carbon emissions. Technologies for carbon removal are currently unproven and we simply don’t know which ones we will be able to rely on in the future. For this reason, we must not let unproven carbon removal technologies be used as an excuse to continue using today’s polluting sources of energy. Today’s emitting sources need to be phased out, starting now, and we are confident that the IEP will identify clear steps to make this happen with continued reliability and at low cost.
The plan must focus on the primary task at hand, replacing fossil fuels that are wreaking havoc on our climate and health with the right mix of renewables, storage and flexible load, electrification of the transportation and building sectors, and other currently available clean energy technologies that can achieve deep decarbonization and reduce harmful air pollution.
We look forward to working with the board and staff to finalize and implement a strong plan that will realize Governor Murphy’s vision of 100% clean energy and usher in a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for generations to come.