Bill (from unlikely source) suggesting BPU should study costs related to heat pumps advances

S3793, co-sponsored by Smith, says study would determine feasibility, marketability and costs of implementing large-scale geothermal heat pump systems in N.J.

A Senate bill (S3793) that directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to conduct a study to determine the feasibility, marketability and costs of implementing large-scale geothermal heat pump systems in New Jersey took another step forward Monday when it was reported for a second reading.

Bob Smith. (New Jersey Legislature)

Whether it eventually is put up for a vote remains to be seen, but the fact that state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway), the chair of the Environment and Energy Committee — and a strong proponent of electrification — is co-sponsoring it is considered a win by some.

Smith was one of the only three state senators to vote against bipartisan legislation last session that would study the full cost of implementing an electrification mandate. His decision to sponsor this bill impressed Eric DeGesero, executive director of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Propane Gas Association.

“In one week, Sen. Smith has introduced and released from his committee Senate Bill 3793, legislation that requires the BPU to study and report recommendations to the Legislature for its delegation of authority to Gov. (Phil) Murphy, prior to the governor mandating the installation of some heat pumps,” DeGesero said.

Eric DeGesero. (File photo)

“This is in direct contravention to two other bills of his, Senate Bill 1602 and Senate Bill 3672, which are sweeping delegations of legislative authority to the governor, whereby he can mandate the installation of all types of heat pumps — without knowing the costs to New Jersey residents, businesses and homeowners.”

DeGesero was thrilled by Smith’s action — but also hopeful that he will take one more step.

“Sen. Smith is to be commended for recognizing the need for a study of and request for legislative authorization by Gov. Murphy prior to his mandating any heat pump installation,” he said. “Following this logic, Senator Smith is urged to support bipartisan Senate Bill 2671 (from Sen. Vin Gopal and Sen. Holly Schepisi) which mirrors the ‘study’ first, ‘request’ a delegation of legislative authority next and, finally, if granted, ‘receive’ a delegation of legislative authority, approach of his Senate Bill 3793.”