Boiling over: Opponents to electrification of boilers warn of millions of dollars of coming costs

Sens. Testa, Bucco, fuel merchants head DeGesero say proposal needs more study before implementation

Closeup of manometer, pipes and faucet valves of heating system in a boiler room

The anticipation that, in December, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will enact new rules and regulations that will call for the electrification of boilers — a first step in the Energy Master Plan — is drawing ire.

Sen. Michael Testa. (File photos)

Two members of New Jersey’s bipartisan Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, state Sens. Michael Testa (R-Vineland) and Anthony Bucco (R-Denville), are warning that the impact will be felt across the state in the form of higher product costs and skyrocketing energy bills.

They say converting gas and oil boilers to electric could cost manufacturers, businesses, public schools and apartment complexes millions of dollars.

Testa said the idea is moving too quickly and without proper diligence — or a consideration of the costs.

“This will be nothing short of a man-made economic disaster,” he said.

Sen. Anthony Bucco.

Bucco agreed.

“This is going to tear through the state economy like a bulldozer through a cornfield,” he said.

Bucco said the cost to replace some boilers could go as high as $2 million.

A coalition of more than 30 business and labor organizations said there are approximately 1,500 apartment buildings, 1,500 K-12 public schools and 1,200 commercial, industrial and manufacturing facilities.

Eric DeGesero, executive vice president of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, said the impact on schools will have a direct impact on property taxes.

Eric DeGesero.

“The millions of dollars that will be expended for a mandate that the Legislature has never authorized will be an anchor around the checkbooks of all New Jerseyans,” he said. “In order to avoid huge property tax hikes at New Jersey’s Blue Ribbon Schools and throughout the state, the Legislature needs to pass S2671 (sponsored by Sen. Vin Gopal) and A3935 (Assemblyman Paul Moriarty), which would halt the building electrification mandate until a full analysis of costs can be developed and Legislative authorization provided.”

Testa, the co-chair of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, said the impact on that sector could be devastating.

“Everybody is going to get hit by everything from higher grocery bills, property taxes and rent payments, but I am especially concerned about what this does to New Jersey’s crucial manufacturing segment,” he said. “A multimillion-dollar investment to replace a perfectly functional boiler system could put companies out of business and workers out of jobs.

“This is not the time to be overwhelming employers with onerous expenses that will force them to increase the prices of their products for end users and make it harder for them to compete with out-of-state rivals.”