Legislation requiring BPU to open electrical grid to new energy sources advances in Senate

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Jean Stanfield that requires the Board of Public Utilities to conduct a study on short-term solutions that would allow additional energy sources to connect to the electrical grid was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Monday.

The bipartisan legislation, S3489, co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway) mandates that, within one year, the BPU must report the findings of its study to the governor and Legislature with recommended regulatory actions to improve the delivery of electricity throughout the state.

The BPU would be required to implement its recommendations as a regional pilot program for one year. If the recommendations prove successful, rules and regulations would be implemented statewide.

It is unclear if the bill will advance further.

“New Jersey has ambitious goals to promote and expand renewable energy projects, but the infrastructure must be in place for these initiatives to work,” Stanfield (R-Evesham) said. “Our legislation offers four potential solutions that could open segments of the electrical grid that are currently closed to new energy sources and instructs the BPU to identify alternative solutions as well.”

State and local governments have invested billions of dollars into renewable energy while the expansion of the electrical grid has lagged, Stanfield said.

Last year, researchers at Princeton University stated that, to reduce carbon emissions, the pace of grid expansion in the U.S. must “more than double” the rate of expansion seen during the previous decade.

“The process of building the infrastructure needed to open the grid for new energy sources will take time,” Stanfield said. “It is necessary to find solutions that make our energy grid sufficient to support new energy projects in New Jersey.”