N.J. attorney among Fox Rothschild promotions
Fox Rothschild LLP, a national law firm, recently promoted an associate in the Princeton office to partner as part of a series of moves.
Corinne McCann Trainor, a trial attorney who handles litigation related to complex business transactions, intellectual property disputes and other business and family matters, was one of 19 associates promoted by the firm.
Fox Rothschild also has New Jersey offices in Atlantic City and Morristown, as well as New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and more.
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Murphy signs controversial nuclear subsidy bill
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a nuclear subsidy bill and an energy master plan executive order Wednesday during a ceremony in Monmouth Junction.
The nuclear subsidy bill, which faced heavy opposition from many consumer and environmental groups, would provide Public Service Enterprise Group with a potential annual subsidy from the state (if it is deemed necessary after a review by the Board of Public Utilities) of up to $300 million, in order to support the decreasingly profitable — but clean — nuclear energy.
“These facilities support 5,800 jobs, not to mention the ancillary impact of those jobs,” Murphy said. “Those are good-paying, union jobs that support a middle-class family.”
PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo previously told ROI-NJ that the subsidy, if approved, will help the company maintain two nuclear plants in Salem County.
The Salem plant, owned 57 percent by PSEG and 43 percent by Exelon, and Hope Creek, owned by PSEG, are facing increasing market pressure from cheaper and more abundant natural gas, Izzo said.
“With Gov. Murphy’s exciting agenda to advance renewable energy and the guidance and oversight of the Board of Public Utilities, New Jersey is poised to return to its place as a national leader in clean energy,” said BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso. “We are proud to have already deployed 2.5 gigawatts of solar energy in the state and look forward to expanding our portfolio of renewable energy projects.”
This bill also helps PSEG feel confident in its ability to bid to provide nuclear capacity for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the results of which are due from grid operator PJM Interconnection on Wednesday.
In a statement Wednesday, Izzo applauded Murphy’s signing of the bill and executive order.
“Together, these measures create a forward-looking energy policy that makes New Jersey a national leader in advancing clean energy,” he said “This package follows through on Gov. Phil Murphy’s pledge that an enlightened, comprehensive energy policy would be a top priority of his administration. These new laws will preserve and create good-paying jobs and spur billions of dollars in investment in clean energy and energy efficiency across the state. And will help preserve nuclear energy, which generates nearly 40 percent of the state’s electricity and more than 90 percent of its carbon-free generation. Our company looks forward to working with state leaders to make sure the promise of this legislation is achieved.”
In a statement, Exelon also applauded Murphy’s actions.
“Exelon commends New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy for taking a national leadership role in recognizing the environmental value of the state’s nuclear fleet, advancing other clean energy policies and putting New Jersey on a path to achieve its carbon emissions goals by signing into law a package of legislation that will help to preserve 90 percent of New Jersey’s carbon-free power, protect 5,800 jobs and save residents and businesses $400 million on their electric bills,” the statement said.
Izzo told ROI-NJ that, despite criticism from competitors and the public, he was confident about the bill’s protections for the ratepayers.
“We are asking for a safety net that could be less than $300 million annually, with built-in protections. The BPU could reduce the amount if a price on carbon emissions (is developed) and they can reduce if (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) comes with (incentives) for fuel diversity. Also, if it becomes too expensive for New Jersey to pay, the state has the right to say no. The cap in our bill would be a $10 increase in the energy bills,” Izzo said.
The new initiatives do, in fact, call for zero-emission credits for the state, in addition to ramping up wind and solar energy, and calling for greater renewable energy storage.
“This is a great day for New Jersey,” Izzo said. “Thanks to the leadership and vision of Gov. Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, we are back on track toward the healthy and prosperous clean energy future this state wants and needs. We also appreciate the perseverance and foresight of the legislative sponsors, led by Sen. Bob Smith and Assemblyman Jack McKeon, for their tireless efforts in advancing thoughtful, comprehensive measures intended to meet the state’s energy demands and environmental needs of tomorrow.”
Subsidies for the plants, which most estimates indicate would cost ratepayers between $35-50 annually, drew heavy criticism from consumer and environmental groups — and were a cause for the delay of the signings.
One of the biggest critics of the subsidy bill, the N.J. Coalition for Fair Energy, said there is likely going to be legal action following the signings — a strategy that has been used in other states where Exelon received subsidies for its nuclear plants.
“Today’s news is a disappointment for many, and a major setback for ratepayers,” said spokesperson Matt Fossen. “While PSEG shareholders just became more prosperous, the reality is New Jersey consumers now have to confront higher electric bills for no reason other than to bail out PSEG management’s bad business decisions. We wish officials would’ve waited to make a decision until after the results of PJM’s capacity auction were announced, which will be literally only hours after the governor’s signing, but this issue is not over — and it’s unfortunate the courts may be necessary to bring a dose of reason to the debate.”
Atlantic City Electric, which is part of Exelon, said Murphy’s actions will help New Jersey continue its work in workforce development.
“As part of Exelon’s merger with Pepco Holdings, the company committed to investing $6.5 million in a workforce development initiative to expand training programs for energy-related jobs,” ACE said in a statement. “This initiative, which will kick off this summer, includes five programs with three vocational schools and four workforce development boards across southern New Jersey. It will help train the workforce needed to fill these future energy jobs, including the build out of the underlying infrastructure necessary to facilitate the growth of the clean energy economy.”
“We applaud Gov. Murphy’s commitment to driving a clean and sustainable energy future for all New Jerseyans, and today’s signing is another example of his leadership role in this important policy initiative,” said Dave Velazquez, CEO and president of Pepco, which includes Atlantic City Electric. “We are committed to partnering with stakeholders across the state to ensure that this legislation leads to the development of new and innovative programs and initiatives that will create new jobs in the energy field and have a positive impact on our customers, our environment and the communities we serve.”
Read more from ROI-NJ:
- Izzo explains why PSEG is asking for nuclear subsidy — Controversy has surrounded bill that would provide $300M in annual support for Salem plant
- Editor’s Desk: For Izzo, fight over PSEG subsidy turns personal
- The heat is on: Gov. Murphy wants more wind power, cleaner energy — and BPU President Fiordaliso welcomes the pressure
Columbia manufacturing subcontractor wins SBA award
Imperial Machine & Tool Co., a 75-year-old machining, fabricating and assembly firm based in Columbia, was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2018 Regional Subcontractor of the Year for Region II, the SBA announced this week.
Imperial Machine & Tool beat out nine other subcontracting firms from the region, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to receive the award. The fourth-generation firm has 40 employees based out of its 33,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing and test facility.
“Each of our employees shares a sense of commitment and pride in their work that contributes to the success we enjoy today, and has put us in a position to be recognized as SBA’s 2018 Regional Subcontractor of the Year,” President Chris Joest said in a prepared statement.
SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger said the company was nominated by Jessica L. Straub, small business liaison officer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, a Department of Defense research and development lab.
“To be nominated by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a well-respected and renowned R&D facility, is truly an honor, and I can honestly say each of us here is grateful to the SBA for this recognition and prestigious award,” Joest said.
Imperial Machine & Tool was selected for the honor based on criteria including technical and management capability; financial strength; customer interface and support; innovativeness of products offered; and ability to deliver quality services on time and at competitive cost to the U.S. government.
“This is a small business that has a rich history in manufacturing and providing its customers with technically challenging and complex components,” Bulger said in a statement. “Imperial Machine & Tool Co. is a prime example why small businesses across the country are so vital to supplying the U.S. government with superior quality services and goods.”
The company serves the semiconductor, technology, energy, aerospace and defense industries, among others. It was established in 1943 by Michael Joest, Chris Joest’s grandfather, and counts Chris Joest’s son, Christian Joest, among its leaders.
“Small businesses like Imperial Machine & Tool Co. continue to play an important role in the manufacturing sector in New Jersey,” SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone said in a statement. “By embracing technology and exploring avenues like metal 3D printing, Chris Joest and his staff have raised the bar and developed a blueprint for all small manufacturers to follow.”
The national award was won by Evans Capacitor Co. of East Providence, Rhode Island.
Read more from ROI-NJ:
- Morris County manufacturing exec named SBA’s N.J. Small Business Person of the Year
- Withum, NJMEP, Morris and Somerset chambers create Manufacturing Cabinet
Middlesex County College president to retire after 13 years
Middlesex County College announced that its president, Joann La Perla-Morales, will retire effective June 30 after 50 years in higher education.
La Perla-Morales became MCC’s sixth president in January 2005, making her the longest-serving president in the college’s history.
“My 13 years at Middlesex have been the most professionally rewarding of my life,” she said in a prepared statement. “To the students, faculty, administration, employees, alumni and board of this great institution, I offer my sincere gratitude for providing me with the opportunity to lead an institution that will only grow stronger.”
The board will announce an interim president in the coming weeks, the Edison college said, and will begin a national search for a permanent replacement shortly.
“Dr. La Perla-Morales has been an integral part of our growth, and we wish her well in her retirement,” board Chairman Dorothy K. Power said in a prepared statement. “On behalf of the board and our entire community, we thank her for her many years of service to Middlesex County and its residents.”
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RCBC rewards acting president with permanent post
Rowan College at Burlington County has named its acting president, Michael Cioce, to the permanent post, effective Sept. 1, it announced.
RCBC President Paul Drayton was placed on leave just before the start of the academic year, and resigned in April. Cioce, who had been vice president of enrollment management and student success, was named to the interim post in August, when Drayton’s leave began.
Cioce will become the Mount Laurel college’s sixth president upon Drayton’s formal resignation in September.
“As the first in my family to graduate college, I’m committed to making sure all students have the opportunity to open the doors of their future through education,” Cioce said in a statement. “I’m humbled by the trust the board has placed in me, and am excited to work with the college’s exceptional students, faculty, staff and partners in our quest to provide innovative, high-quality and affordable education.”
Cioce has a bachelor’s from Marywood University and MBA and master’s in financial management from Drexel University, RCBC said. He completed a doctorate in higher education leadership at the University of Pennsylvania this month.
“The board of trustees is thrilled to have Dr. Cioce as our college president,” board Chairman George Nyikita said in a prepared statement. “He has proven himself to be fully dedicated to the spirit and mission of this institution, and I am confident students in Burlington County will benefit greatly from his leadership and service.”
Cioce joined RCBC in 2010 as director of financial aid before he was promoted to executive director of enrollment management and then the VP position he held before becoming acting president.
Read more from ROI-NJ:
- Rowan College at Burlington’s president on unexpected leave
- Rowan College at Burlington County’s president resigns
Sills lawyer: Supreme Court ruling in employer-employee litigation is ‘major victory’ for local businesses
A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week dealing with employee-employer litigation has some clear winners and losers in the eyes of New Jersey legal experts.
The Supreme Court on Monday decided in a 5-4 majority — led by newly appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch — that one long-existing federal labor act trumped another and, as a result, employees who sign employment agreements to arbitrate legal claims have to do it individually.
It was a “major victory” for local businesses, according to David I. Rosen, who represents management at businesses in legal matters as chair of the employment and labor practice group at Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.
“What it means practically for employers in New Jersey and elsewhere is that arbitration agreements that they enter into with employees can effectively waive the employee’s rights to bring class action suits against employers and can require them to arbitrate individual (legal) claims instead of group claims,” he said. “You’re going to see more employers asking judges to bar class actions if employees ignore the agreements and simply start their lawsuits.”
The upshot requires a less lengthy explanation.
“I expect this to save businesses from litigation expenses and adverse publicity,” Rosen said.
That doesn’t mean class action lawsuits will now become a thing of the past. Where there are no arbitration agreements in place with the proper language, there will still be collective actions, Rosen explained.
It’s not uncommon, however, for the signing of such contracts to be made a condition of employment. In situations like that, Adam Kleinfeldt, a partner at Deutsch Atkins P.C., argues that employees often don’t know what they’re agreeing to. He said a sizable percentage of employees, without attorneys to consult, don’t understand the repercussions of every paper they’re signing on the first day of a job.
“And, so, employers who are sophisticated can prevent employees from getting their right to have a jury of their peers hear legitimate employment disputes,” he said. “It’s only later employees find this out.”
Kleinfeldt comes to this issue from the perspective of representing workers’ interests. He deals with employment litigation such as discrimination, retaliation and whistle blowing.
Given that, he’s troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision.
“Millions of workers will be impacted by this,” he said. “The threat of a jury responding to employer conduct has been removed. I believe this undermines the jury system overall.”
Similar to what was expressed by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who delivered the dissenting opinion on this matter, Kleinfeldt considers this a setback after decades of federal and state policy aimed to create an equal playing field for employers and employees.
“I think Ginsberg gets it right,” Kleinfeldt said. “I agree that the result will be a negative effect on statutes on the federal and state level that are designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers. These workers are powerless against the actions of employers, and access to a jury trial was the one of the only powers they had.”
New Jersey has had its own set of high court opinions pertaining to when someone can voluntarily waive a right to a jury trial as a matter of contract law. The state’s Supreme Court has held arbitration agreements to a strict standard in terms of the language in the contract — making that the deciding factor of arbitration’s enforceability.
Each state has its own approach to how arbitration agreements are enforced. In most cases, it seems the federal court’s decision will take precedence.
“The Supreme Court is enforcing a federal statute, and, if you have an employment agreement, it is governed by federal law,” Rosen said. “So, if the Supreme Court is saying you can enforce arbitration agreements against employees, it will in all likelihood undercut state court decisions that suggest otherwise.”
What it doesn’t undercut, Rosen clarified, is an employee’s right to litigation involving disputes over pay, benefits and other matters. His view is that there are a lot of positives in the strengthening of the use of an arbitrator to resolve these conflicts.
“An arbitrator is not going to be swayed by emotion, but instead just listen to the facts to make a decision,” he said, adding that the process resolves disputes “quickly and efficiently.”
At the end of the day, no business wants to get sued — especially in large class action lawsuits.
“It’s bad for publicity, it’s expensive to defend, and — to top it all off — it can be at the whim of a jury deciding whether they engaged in wrongdoing,” Rosen said. “So, for businesses here, this is a sigh of relief.”
Sobel’s Glick honored for leadership of ACG’s N.J. chapter
Sally Glick, principal and chief growth strategist at Sobel & Co. in Livingston, has been awarded this year’s Association for Corporate Growth 2018 Meritorious Service Award for her commitment to and the advancement of the New Jersey chapter of ACG.
“Every organization knows that the dedication of its volunteers is the truest measure of its value and success,” J.B. Dollison, chairman of the ACG global board of directors, said. “ACG is no exception. This year’s award recipients are natural leaders who have generously given thousands of volunteer hours. It’s our honor and privilege to recognize them.”
Glick, who has served the last four years as New Jersey chapter president for the global organization focused on driving middle-market growth, was nominated by her peers especially for encouraging dozens of new members to join and lead committees, revamping the sponsorship program, and working closely on the chapter’s signature annual event, the Corporate Growth Conference and Awards.
“It makes it that much more meaningful to be recognized and appreciated by one’s peers for one’s leadership,” Glick, who also is responsible for the development and implementation of her accounting firm’s branding, marketing communications and business development strategies, said. “The Association for Corporate Growth is one of the most effective business organizations I have been a part of and I’m thrilled to be in a leadership role there.”
Withum, NJMEP, Morris and Somerset chambers create Manufacturing Cabinet
In an attempt to further build manufacturing in the state, accounting firm Withum has joined with the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and the Somerset County Business Partnership to create the Manufacturing Cabinet, an industry group to serve manufacturers and other supply chain companies.
Officials from the organizations say the Manufacturing Cabinet comes at a time when the manufacturing industry has seen a renaissance, spurred by job growth and favorable tax reform incentives.
Jim Hannan, practice leader of Withum’s manufacturing, distribution and logistics service group, said the time is right for such a group.
“Given the renewed national and regional focus on manufacturing as a stimulus for economic growth and expansion, Withum and its Manufacturing Cabinet co-founders established this group to advance the full spectrum of manufacturing in New Jersey and beyond, from logistics and distribution to the entire supply chain,” Hannan said. “As the sector continues its comeback, the Manufacturing Cabinet is bringing together some of business and industry’s greatest minds.”
John Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP, Paul Boudreau, president of Morris County Chamber of Commerce, and Michael Kerwin, CEO and president of Somerset County Business Partnership, also will be on the leadership team.
The Manufacturing Cabinet not only will advocate for the industry, but it will host thought leadership events, too.
Its first event will be June 6, when the group hosts “Driving Business through Sustainability” featuring Columbia University professor William “Bill” Russell, who also is a principal of a sustainability management consulting company called Transitioning to Green Inc.
The event will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. at The Madison Hotel in Morristown. (Advance registration is required and seating is limited. For more information, contact Withum’s Matt Basilo at email@example.com.)
Manufacturing Cabinet officials say New Jersey has more than 10,500 manufacturing businesses and over 360,000 jobs — and that both numbers are growing.
Kennedy said the group can help drive a rebirth of manufacturing, taking advantage of the state’s highly educated workforce as well as the largest port facility on the East Coast and an extensive highway and rail network.
“This cabinet further enhances our mission of advocating for and improving the productivity and global competitiveness of small and medium-sized manufacturers and companies within the supply chain throughout New Jersey,” Kennedy said. “We look forward to working with these organizations where we can all provide solutions that will grow both their businesses and the New Jersey economy.”
The group said Morris and Somerset counties are in position to benefit because major interstates 78, 80, 95 and 287 feed the state’s manufacturing hotbeds.
In Morris and Somerset counties, the manufacturing base encompasses pharmaceuticals, metals, plastics, production technology and scientific instrumentation. This sector is also a leading contributor to the strength of office, industrial and residential real estate performance in both these counties.
Atlantic Health, Kindred break ground on rehab facility
The new institute, a two-story, 38-bed facility with all private rooms, will offer inpatient rehabilitation for patients who experience a loss of function from an injury or illness.
It also includes modern features such as a brain injury unit with private dining and therapy gym, large interdisciplinary gyms, a therapeutic courtyard with golf, basketball and varied surfaces, and a dialysis suite.
“Our focus is expanding accessibility to high-quality health care for our patients,” said Amy Perry, senior vice president, integrated care delivery, and CEO of Atlantic Health System’s Hospital Division. “The combination of Atlantic Health System and Kindred, in a modernized, convenient location, puts top-caliber rehabilitation services within the communities we serve.”
This is the first joint venture inpatient rehabilitation in the state, both organizations said Tuesday.
“We are pleased to work with the premier health care provider in New Jersey and break ground on this high-quality post-acute care institute that will greatly benefit the community,” said Jason Zachariah, president of Kindred Rehabilitation Services, a division of Kindred. “Atlantic Health System has been a great partner and we look forward to continuing to work with them on this quality-focused collaboration.”
The facility will take up about 46,000 square feet of land, a portion of the 40-acre Giralda Farms, and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2019.
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The heat is on: Gov. Murphy wants more wind power, cleaner energy — and BPU President Fiordaliso welcomes the pressure
Behind the scenes of politicians’ energy proclamations are agencies responsible for turning words into action.
So, when Gov. Phil Murphy called on New Jersey to pick up the pace of development of offshore wind farms — with the new administration setting a goal of 3,500 megawatts in offshore wind capacity, a higher projection than any other state in the region — it sent the Board of Public Utilities into overdrive.
The BPU is both a utility regulator and the de facto Office of Clean Energy. And there’s a new face leading this Legislature-designated promoter of a greener New Jersey.
Joe Fiordaliso, whom Murphy appointed as the BPU’s president at the beginning of the year, isn’t exactly new to the agency; he has served as a commissioner there since 2005, based on a nomination from former Gov. Richard Codey.
But the clean energy function of the BPU is certainly taking on a new importance under Murphy and his aggressive renewable energy agenda.
Fiordaliso is charged up about it. ROI-NJ talked to the busy BPU president about why that is.
ROI-NJ: Could you start off by talking about what’s going into implementing the governor’s directive on wind energy?
Joe Fiordaliso: We’re very excited about offshore wind. It’s taking New Jersey in a direction that we have not gone in up until now. It has been a long time coming for the state. We’re working closely with other state agencies on this. And we are facilitating the creation of an offshore wind strategic plan to get things into motion. We’re putting out requests for consultants and so on for that process.
We’re excited about it for a number of reasons. Obviously, the whole area off of the Atlantic Coast, particularly the northern part, is very conducive to wind-generated power; the farther south you go along the coast, the less effective it is. If we can harness it by reaching the goal Gov. Murphy committed to of 3,500 MW by 2030, it will supply enough energy for 20 percent of our energy users. So, it’s quite a journey we’re going on at the moment. We’re proceeding with this, but the process is going to take time.
The BPU was also directed to begin a rule-making process for the funding mechanism, or, as they call it, the OREC. We’ll be doing that, too. We recently announced a hearing for May 8 in order for us to solicit comments on the rule-making process.
ROI: Obviously, the impact on ratepayers is a top concern of many Jerseyans. Is there any early indication of what that impact might be?
JF: There’s a lot to be determined regarding that. But I will make an analogy here: I’ve been around the BPU for a good number of years and, when I started, the cost of solar was astronomical; what we’ve seen over the years is that cost — for development, the parts, for everything involved — has been coming down dramatically. Eventually, the same thing is going to happen with wind.
Initially, yes, it might be expensive. What those numbers are is something I have no way of knowing at this point, not until we get our strategic plan and funding mechanism in place. That’s when it will be determined. But we want to surpass California as the greenest state in the union. That’s our goal. And we’re poised to do that, because the governor has set a goal of 100 percent of our energy generated by green sources by 2050. People look at green energy initiatives as an expensive proposition — and it can be initially, there’s no doubt about it. But you also have to look at the economic development that comes along with it, as far as jobs and ancillary industries that feed into it. We see an awful lot of positives as far as the economics are concerned.
ROI: Right after Murphy was elected, we spoke with Danish offshore wind developer Ørsted about its excitement that projects could get underway in the state. The firm, which just this month opened an Atlantic City headquarters, talked about how Europe has really taken advantage of wind power. Are you looking to places like that when thinking about how to pull this off locally?
JF: Europe is light-years ahead of us in terms of wind energy. They have great resources, because I don’t know that you have stronger winds than those you have in the North Sea. They’re right there, and they’ve been tapping that resource. Denmark gets at least half of its generated energy from wind. So, we have a lot to learn from places like that. And we’re receptive to learning. If New Jersey is to be open for business for wind energy, we have to be also open-minded and consider those who have gone before us and perfected a technology we want to expand here.
ROI: One of Murphy’s first major energy-related actions was to sign an executive order directing the state to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap and trade emissions program that former Gov. Chris Christie had pulled out of. What’s happening with that now?
JF: The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency for, hopefully, restarting our participation in that program. We are in a supportive posture regarding that. They’re moving ahead, and we’re also moving ahead collectively, in getting our ducks in a row for that re-entry. I might add that it was a lot easier to withdraw than it is to re-enter. When the powers that be withdrew New Jersey, it was a lot simpler. But we think this is important to advancing a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and, again, it’s about mitigating the impacts of climate change. It’s an important pact for our region and one that, in my opinion, we never should’ve withdrawn from.
The BPU is happy to be involved and providing whatever support mechanisms we can to a process to re-enter this agreement — a process that has already begun. But it’s not a process that will conclude tomorrow. We don’t have a time frame for when it will happen. Some have indicated it might take up to two years, but I don’t know if that’s accurate.
ROI: What else is going on in the area of clean energy in the Garden State?
JF: The solar industry is still vibrant here. It slowed down over the past few years, but we’re re-energizing it. We used to be No. 2 behind California in terms of rankings and we’re now around No. 5. Today, we’re looking at about 90,000 or more solar installations, while back in 2000 we had only six. We’re continuing to move in the right direction. We’re promoting solar installations on landfills and brownfields, terrain that has few useful purposes otherwise.
Micro-grids are also becoming more in fashion. That evolved from Superstorm Sandy, during which some entities had micro-grids and were the only ones with power in the state. Along with that has come a lot more emphasis on energy efficiency. In general, we’re going to see a broadening of the clean energy portfolio under this governor. We’re looking at a lot of things. We’ve got all the potential for harnessing green energy as you can ask for.
ROI: How about nuclear? The state’s nuclear energy supply has had a couple of ups and downs, with the most recent news being the legislation passed last month to prevent the closure of the state’s threatened plants with new subsidies. Where do you stand on the fate of this energy source?
JF: While we don’t regulate nuclear power — no state agency does, as it’s a federal issue — in my personal opinion, it has to be part of the total equation. I’m concerned about the unfounded fear of nuclear power here in the United States. We’ve taken the steps necessary to make sure a Chernobyl is never going to happen. We’re very good as far as safety is concerned. Here in the state, 40 percent of energy generation is nuclear power. So, if you take that off the table, you have to make up 40 percent of our energy from somewhere else — losing out on an energy source with zero emissions.
ROI: Especially given that you’re going to be doing a lot of promoting green energy in this role, what is it that keeps you personally invested in this?
JF: One of the things that has prompted and encouraged many people to get into green energy — it’s also the most important thing, in my opinion — is the fact that we’re creating an environment that’s a lot better than the one my generation inherited. These efforts are going to, hopefully, reduce the potentially harmful impacts of climate change. I also believe we have a moral obligation to future obligations to mitigate the effects of climate change.