Murphy announces plans to work on next Energy Master Plan (whether it includes costs remains to seen)

Administration says 2024 EMP will reflect N.J.’s updated climate goals and impacts of recent state and federal policies on clean energy economy goals

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday the commencement of planning for the development of a new Energy Master Plan — for release in 2024.

The administration said the 2024 EMP will reflect New Jersey’s updated climate goals and the impacts of recent state and federal policies that will help accelerate the state’s transition to a 100% clean energy economy.

Here’s what remains to be seen: Will it come with an estimation of costs associated with elements of the plan?

Costs have been a major contention of the current 2019 EMP and — and with an increasing emphasis on clean energy and the initiatives needed to go in that direction — cost figures to remain a central issue in a 2024 EMP.

Murphy, in a release, said it’s time for the state to reassess its energy goals and plans.

“After five years of bold climate action in New Jersey, we must not only assess our progress to date, but renew our commitment to a clean energy economy while taking stock of the breadth of resources at our disposal,” he said. “Only by developing and diligently pursuing an updated climate mitigation strategy can we build upon our efforts to cultivate resilient and sustainable communities. In addition to taking into consideration the implications of new state and federal policies, the 2024 Energy Master Plan will seek to better capture economic costs and benefits, as well as ratepayer impacts, throughout our journey toward a clean energy future.”

Murphy established the state’s EMP process with Executive Order No. 28, which directed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to lead the development of the 2019 EMP as a statewide blueprint to achieve a 100% clean energy economy by 2050 while meeting offshore wind development and energy storage goals through a least-cost pathway.

The Murphy administration said it felt the 2019 EMP set a strategic vision to comprehensively address the state’s energy system and its associated greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants while building a world-leading innovation economy that invests in communities, vulnerable ecosystems and public health.

The 2024 EMP is expected to update and expand upon this pathway with new information on recent state and federal policies and how federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act will provide additional support to further the advancement of critical clean energy policies.

To ensure the EMP demonstrates the full economic and environmental impacts of clean energy policies, additional time is needed to focus on data-driven modeling, state officials said. Stakeholder meetings originally scheduled to begin in early 2023 will be rescheduled to later in the year to inform the Energy Master Plan Committee’s construction of the report.

Jane Cohen, executive director of the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, said the administration has responsibly pursued a clean energy strategy supported by concrete evidence and focused on providing significant benefits.

“We are eager to further optimize this pathway to a clean energy future by engaging in robust stakeholder engagement, analyzing economic and ratepayer impacts and devising a strategy that better reflects our current arsenal of policy tools and resources,” she said.

BPU President Joe Fiordaliso said the cost of the plan to ratepayers will be important.

“The impact of the administration’s clean energy policies on ratepayers is paramount as we begin the process of the new Energy Master Plan,” he said. “NJBPU looks forward to working with state cabinet colleagues to implement our clean energy programs to meet the governor’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.

“With the devastating impact of climate change upon us, we must continue putting in place the right programs for New Jerseyans that will lead to a cleaner environment, improve health outcomes and help expand the state’s clean energy economy.”