Phil Murphy just released a plan that would radically change how N.J. gets its electricity

Source: By Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ Advance Media • Posted: Monday, May 1, 2017

TRENTON — Phil Murphy, the Democratic front runner hoping to replace Gov. Chris Christie, last week formally unveiled a comprehensive energy plan that would radically change how many New Jerseyans get their electricity.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

1.  He’d fix the grid

Murphy said he would seek to prevent the long-term power outages such as those experienced following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011 by “prioritizing investment in resilient electric grid infrastructure.”

He’d do that by mandating the creation of 600 megawatts of energy storage by 2021 — enough to power some 390,000 homes — and 2,000 megawatts of storage deployed by 2030, which would be enough to power 1.3 million of New Jersey’s homes.

2. He’d make solar and wind power priorities for N.J. again

New Jersey is in the top 5 solar producing states in the nation, but following a crash in solar renewable energy credit prices, the state’s solar market contracted in 2013 and 2014, and fell even further in 2015.

Murphy said he would again prioritize a solar energy expansion but would ensure that it reached all Garden State homeowners, not just the wealthiest. He’s planning on launching a community solar program to allow low-income communities to work together to afford clean energy options.

Murphy also set one of the most ambitious goals for wind power in the country: 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind generated electricity by 2030, enough to power 1.5 million homes.

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3. …and he’d make N.J. get all its energy from “clean” sources by 2050

The average temperature on Earth could rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm by 2050, at which point climate change will become dangerous, according to a report by Prof. Sir Robert Watson, former director of NASA’s earth science division.

That year is also Murphy’s deadline for New Jersey to achieve a 100 percent clean energy economy.

“Economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive,” said Murphy. “We can base a new and stronger middle class on innovation and clean energy, and ensure all communities take part.”

4. He’d acknowledge humans cause climate change

Murphy said he would reinstate the office of climate change within the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to “ensure impartial, fact-based scientific principles guide state policy.”

Christie disbanded the office in 2010, and in 2015, dismissed scientists’ warnings that climate change is an existential crisis for humanity’s survival.

Appearing on MSNBC in December 2015, the governor said climate change “is not a crisis” but that he was “not relying on scientists” to form that opinion.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy destroyed some 345,000 homes.

Today, more than 338,000 of the 1.1 million residents who live on the Jersey Shore live below the high tide lines forecast for the lowest elevations of the Jersey Shore over the next five to 25 years, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Murphy said Christie’s decision to close the office of climate change was a “false choice” between economic growth or environmental protection.

“We must come to recognize that the two go hand-in-hand,” said Murphy.

5. He’d rejoin that greenhouse gas initiative Christie bailed on

A year after taking office, Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state program aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Most northeastern states, including New York, Delaware and Connecticut, are members, agreeing to cap the amount of CO2pollution their power plants can emit.

Claude Brodesser-Akner may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ClaudeBrodesser. Find Politics on Facebook.