Days after Ørsted made the difficult decision to stop its offshore wind efforts in New Jersey — citing ever-increasing costs that made it feel the program was no longer financially viable — state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon was … sad.
“I took no joy in this,” O’Scanlon (R-Holmdel) said.
The “I-told-you-so” statement he released late Tuesday night was factual, he said. But it wasn’t fun.
“I wish that offshore wind could be an endless and boundless source of energy — that would be lovely,” he said. “But the numbers never seemed to add up.”
That’s why O’Scanlon has been one of the sector’s strongest critics. He said he’s not against clean energy — or a climate-change denier. And he said he’s not a highly partisan official just looking for wins over the other side, either.
O’Scanlon said he’s someone who just wants to talk with Democrats about energy policy.
“Republications have consistently argued for reasonable and totally transparent public discussion and debate over these issues,” he said — his partisan side picking up.
“That hasn’t happened. The Energy Master Plan has been shrouded in secrecy — and what analysis has been done of it, demonstrates that it’s likely unworkable. Really important aspects, like real costs, have been seemingly purposely kept from the public.”
Here’s the kicker.
“If you’re going to make the argument that we need to do things that will very likely dramatically increase our energy costs in order to save the life of the planet, make that argument,” he said. “That hasn’t happened with this administration or with the Democrat legislative leadership.
“There has been a complete abdication of the responsibility to be straight with the public and let them know what they’re getting us into.”
O’Scanlon admits the Republicans do not have the resources to completely dive into the issue, like the administration does, but he argues they couldn’t make it work with those details.
He wonders if Ørsted isn’t just the first domino to fall — pointing to what he calls overambitious plans for electrification and electric vehicles.
He wonders what the administration has for a Plan B — and if something such as nuclear isn’t a more feasible option.
“Maybe we should start going down the path of being a leader in the country of cutting-edge nuclear and smaller reactors,” he said.
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Maybe the state should show more love for natural gas, knowing that we likely wouldn’t be able to handle much of the great push for electrification.
“It’s got to start with a frank discussion with the public and in public — and an examination of realistic options — because, if we’re not going to build more natural gas pipelines, if we’re not going to really aggressively build nuclear, are we setting ourselves up to have third-world energy shortage problems?” he said.
“This needs to happen sooner rather than later.”
That sooner could be as soon as next week — should the Republicans manage to take back control of either house of the Legislature.
If they do, O’Scanlon said he’ll be ready to talk the talk with Democrats when it comes to energy policy.
“This shutting out the other party has to stop somewhere,” he said.
O’Scanlon said it’s time to talk.