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June 7, 2011

RE: Governor unveils new State Energy Master Plan

Dear Mayor:

Earlier today, Governor Christie, joined by Lee Solomon, President of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and Bob Martin, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), unveiled a new energy master plan for the State.   The comprehensive energy plan is designed to fulfill the state’s energy needs for the next 10 years and emphasizes renewable energy.  

The plan outlined “five overarching goals” for the State:

  1. “Drive down the cost of energy for all customers”;
  2. “Promote a diverse portfolio of new, clean, in-State generation”;
  3. Reward energy efficiency and energy conservation and reduce peak demand”;
  4. Capitalize on merging technologies for transportation and power production:;
  5. “Maintain support for the renewable energy portfolio standard of 22.5% of energy from renewable sources by 2021.”

Of particular interest to municipalities and local governments, the plan is designed to focus large solar projects toward large commercial, landfill and brownfields sites.   On page 102 of the draft master plan, it reads that, “Local governments should be allowed to collect property taxes from the property owners, based on the enhanced value of the site. “  A footnote points out that recent legislation, including PL 2008 c. 90 and PL 2009, c.146 prohibits local governments from increasing the tax assessment following the installation of a solar system and limits local zoning jurisdiction, respectively.   Both laws were passed over the opposition of the League and local governments.   We would hope that this would now allow for reconsideration of these statutes. 

The draft plan also states the Administration’s position that it will not subsidize the loss of productive farmland for renewable energy projects. The report specifically states that, “The Christie Administration does not support the use of ratepayer subsidies to turn productive farmland into grid-supply solar facilities.” 

A copy of the plan is available online at the BPU’s website at: http://nj.gov/emp/docs/pdf/2011%20Draft%20Energy%20Master%20Plan.pdf 

The Governor’s press release is posted at: http://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/552011/approved/20110607a.html
The BPU will be conducting three public hearings on the draft plan, as follows:

July 26, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)
Campus Center Atrium
150 Bleeker St.
Newark, NJ

August 3, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
State House Annex, Committee Rm 11
125 West State Street
Trenton, NJ

August 11, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Richard Stockton College of NJ
Campus Center
Vera King Farris Drive
Pomona, N.J.

If you submit any comments or testimony on the draft plan, we would request that you copy the League.

The League will review the draft plan, and advise you of any additional issues of interest to municipalities.  In the meanwhile, questions on this letter can be directed to Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or at 609-695-3481 x120.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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