On December 6, 2011, New Jersey issued the 2011 Energy Master Plan (“EMP”). The EMP provides guidance for the “use, management, and development of electricity in New Jersey” for the next 10 years. There are five primary goals outlined in the EMP:
1. Reduce the cost of electricity
2. Diversify the portfolio of in-state electric generation
3. Promote energy efficiency and conservation
4. Benefit from emerging technologies
5. Achieve a Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) of 22.5% by 2021
Below is a breakdown of the generation sources in NJ, keeping in mind that approximately 25% of all electricity consumed in NJ is generated out-of-state.
It is important to note that the target RPS was reduced from 30% in the 2008 EMP to 22.5% in the 2011 EMP. The state claims the 2008 plan was “aspirational” and “had no basis in law or regulation.”
SEA has been reviewing the EMP, with a particular focus on how new generation capacity may impact our waters. One of the largest initiatives is offshore wind, which has the potential to produce up to 3,000 MW. However, the EMP notes that wind is extremely intermittent, and there is a high likelihood that it will not produce energy when it is needed most, such as those hot summer days in July when there is not a breeze in the air. Furthermore, this technology has never been installed in the United States.
The EMP also states that NJ has the potential to provide “at least 9,000 MW of electric power in average wave conditions” utilizing wave energy. This technology would be installed approximately 100 miles offshore. Wave energy can be more predictable and less visual than offshore wind. However, this technology needs to be developed further and there is little information about it in the EMP.
Tidal energy is also highlighted in the EMP. Tidal stream generators produce energy from the movement of tidal water and currents through underwater turbines. Tidal energy is one of the most consistent forms of renewable energy due to the predictable nature of tides. A pilot project will be launched in the Manasquan River sometime in early 2012.
Solar is also highlighted in the EMP, primary due to NJ’s prominent position utilizing this technology. Due to government incentives, NJ now ranks second in the nation for installed photovoltaic solar capacity (second to only CA).
SEA is supportive of renewable generation initiatives, and will continue to monitor the development of various technologies. SEA goal is to ensure that any development of generation, whether from hydrocarbon or renewable sources, does not have a negative impact on the environment or on surf breaks.
The most effective way to reduce our carbon footprint is simply to reduce our consumption. This can be done from being more cognizant about turning off lights, using appliances at night, unplugging chargers when not in use, and purchasing energy efficient products. Conservation is critical.
The full 138 page EMP can be viewed at the following website: http://www.nj.gov/emp/docs/pdf/2011_Final_Energy_Master_Plan.pdf.