Affordable Energy for N.J. calls recent Ratepayer Impact Study ‘flawed’

Affordable Energy for New Jersey, an independent grassroots coalition, said the recent Energy Master Plan Ratepayer Impact Study given to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities by the Brattle Group on Aug. 17 was misleading and incomplete.

The report, which the BPU said looked at the impact of the state’s Energy Master Plan on utility ratepayers through 2030, found that electrification across all sectors led to lower energy bills for customers.

AENJ said an independent peer review of the report, provided by Jonathan Lesser, found that the Brattle EMP report suffered from numerous flaws, starting with its general methodology.

“This report suffers from severe flaws,” Lesser said. “One crucial flaw is that the report doesn’t include a ‘status quo’ model to compare all other scenarios against. Instead, the Brattle Report calculates customer rates for the three achievement pathways best described as — what if we are good? — what if we are great? — what if we are the greatest?

“It completely ignores any chance of failing to meet the current state mandates. Instead, it models meeting the EMP goals and state mandates, and meeting the 2050 goals by 2035.”

AENJ’s independent review goes on to point out other significant flaws in the Brattle report, including:

  • The report ignores all direct consumer costs, such as the costs of installing new heating and hot water equipment, upgrading electric service to handle all of the mandated electric equipment and installing electric vehicle chargers.
  • The report only calculates ratepayer impacts for a single year, 2030, even though the EMP sets goals for 2050.
  • The report provides no actual data or models that can be reviewed and checked independently for accuracy.
  • The report ignores all of the additional costs associated with the need for greater generation reserves to account for the intermittency of the wind and solar generation the state already has mandated and the EMP calls for.
  • The report presents a flawed cost comparison for internal combustion vs. electric vehicles, overstating the operating costs of the former and understating them for the latter.

Click here to see the AENJ report.

AENJ Executive Director Ron Morano said consumers deserve better.

“Nearly 1,000 days or almost three years have gone by before the BPU was gracious enough to provide an analysis that clarified nothing for residents and utility customers,” he said. “The BPU had to actively try to produce a report that fails in such a colossal fashion as the Brattle Group report does.

“New Jersey taxpayers deserve better, and that is why we have asked our resident energy economist to review this report.”

When the study was released, BPU officials stressed that the Brattle Report only looks at the impact on energy costs. The report does not include capital costs associated with clean energy investments, nor any new federal incentives available through the Inflation Reduction Act, they said.

BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso, speaking then, said he was pleased by the report.

“It is clear from this report that we are on track to make New Jersey a cleaner and healthier place to live while establishing that, if certain important steps are taken, ratepayer costs will be mitigated by the way of a decrease in cost,” he said. “We also must note the positive impact a clean energy economy brings to New Jersey, including the creation of new industries, the expansion of existing industries and thousands of good-paying jobs.

“The role of the BPU as the state’s regulatory body is to ensure policies implemented are fair to ratepayers and to identify ways to mitigate the impact of energy industry changes, particularly on low-income customers. The analysis of ratepayer impacts presented in this study will help us do that.”