White paper: Energy Master Plan could cost $525B to implement

N.J. has yet to put price tag on plan that was introduced 20 months ago

The nonprofit organization Affordable Energy for New Jersey estimated that Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan will cost the state $525 billion to implement — thus costing each resident an estimated $52,500.

The figures came Wednesday in the release of a white paper: “Trenton’s Dirty Little Secret … Nobody Can Afford the Energy Master Plan.”

Whether you feel the estimate is accurate or not (you can read the white paper below), one thing cannot be disputed: The state has yet to release an overall cost of the Energy Master Plan, which was announced in January 2020.

About AENJ

Affordable Energy for New Jersey calls itself a broad, grassroots coalition that advocates for actionable, fact-driven energy policy that emphasizes keeping costs low for residents and business and evaluates energy policies and proposals based by asking the following three questions: Is it feasible? Is it reliable? What does it cost?

State officials did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the figure given by Affordable Energy for New Jersey, whether they had an alternate figure to give — and, if not, when such a price tag would be made available.

The Energy Master Plan, and subsequent announcements by Gov. Phil Murphy, have provided clear and aggressive goals — the state wants to get 50% of its power from clean sources by 2030 and 100% by 2050. But it has never provided an estimated cost to implement the plan.

Affordable Energy for New Jersey hired Jonathan Lesser, the president of Continental Economics, to calculate what New Jersey residents should expect to pay for the Energy Master Plan, looking at each of the plan’s seven broad strategies and assessing costs.

The report acknowledged that the goals of the state’s Energy Master Plan were noble, but it said the costs would be astronomical — and it questioned whether they would help the state reach its stated goals even if they were implemented.

“Not only will the EMP require scaling up new technologies (some of which have yet to be proven), the cost impacts on businesses, families and local governments will be significant,” the paper said. “Moreover, the EMP’s massive subsidies and mandates will place the burden of those costs most heavily on the economically disadvantaged, while showering the most benefits on the wealthy. Ironically, the EMP’s climate benefits will be negligible: Even if New Jersey reduced its carbon emissions to zero tomorrow, it would have no measurable impact on world climate.”

Here’s how Affordable Energy for New Jersey arrived at its numbers:

No. 1: Reduce energy consumption and emissions in the transportation sector.

AENJ: Meeting the electric vehicle mandate will cost much more than assumed. (AENJ says it will cost $176 billion).

No. 2: Accelerate deployment of renewable energy and distributed energy resources.

AENJ: Electric bills will skyrocket (cost: $155 billion).

No. 3: Maximize energy efficiency and conservation and reduce peak demand.

AENJ: Energy efficiency and conservation mandates will reduce energy consumption less than claimed and cost much more (cost: $106 billion).

No. 4: Reduce energy consumption and emissions from the building sector.

AENJ: Electrifying New Jersey homes, apartments and businesses will be hugely expensive (cost: $65 billion).

No. 5: Decarbonize and modernize New Jersey’s energy system.

AENJ: Decarbonizing and modernizing New Jersey’s energy system will require customers to pay more for electricity when they need it most (cost: $12.5 billion).

No. 6: Support community energy planning and action with an emphasis on encouraging and supporting participation by low- and moderate-income and environmental justice communities.

AENJ: Community energy plans and a smorgasbord of community subsidies (cost: $1.5 billion).

No. 7: Expand the clean energy innovation economy.

AENJ: Subsidies for the few (cost: $9 billion).

Total cost: $525 billion.

Murphy has made bringing more green energy programs to the state a top priority. It’s an ideal that most residents in the state support. And the rise of the solar and wind economy in the state has been one of his biggest successes.