Rushed Nuclear Bailout Would Undermine Clean Energy Progress and Burden New Jersey’s Electricity Customers

Groups urge legislature to work with Murphy administration on comprehensive clean energy agenda

December 14, 2017
Debora Schneider, 212-616-1377, dschneider@edf.org

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), ReThink Energy NJ, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) urged the New Jersey State Legislature in a joint letter today to reject attempts to rush nuclear subsidies through the “lame-duck” session with little debate, warning they could undermine New Jersey’s path to a clean energy future and financially burden utility customers across the state.

“PSEG’s New Jersey nuclear power plants are making money—so why is the company pushing for a customer-funded bailout?” says Mary Barber, Director, New Jersey Clean Energy, EDF. “We don’t know because PSEG hasn’t released any information or analysis to show these facilities are struggling financially, or what customers would get out of the deal.” 


Governor Christie has long supported nuclear energy, and recently said he would consider signing a bill to provide subsidies as long as it doesn’t include other provisions that the environmental community might want, such as limiting the subsidies and linking them to increased efforts to advance other pollution-free alternatives.

“The Legislature should not let Governor Christie sabotage the incoming Governor’s clean energy agenda,” said Dale Bryk, Chief Planning Officer, NRDC. “There is no urgent threat of plant closures or a spike in carbon emissions from replacement generation. The environmental community is telling the Legislature that there is no imminent threat that warrants rushing this through, and doing so could have negative consequences for clean energy and all New Jersey utility customers.” 

“Governor-elect Murphy’s administration is a few short weeks from taking office, with an ambitious clean energy agenda,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, ReThink Energy NJ. “Working with the new administration to develop a comprehensive clean energy plan that pairs any appropriate support for nuclear plants with ramping up renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts is the right pathway to a clean energy future.”

Nuclear subsidies stand to add substantial new costs to electric bills for all electricity customers in New Jersey, including fixed-income and low-income residents, existing businesses, and those considering a move to the state. 
 
“In the course of two weeks, how can the Legislature determine whether zero-emission credits for existing nuclear plants are critical to New Jersey’s clean energy future, and wisely craft credits that will benefit the state? It can’t!” continued Bryk.

The organizations share a strong commitment to helping the state build a clean energy economy that: cuts pollution; improves public health, especially in overburdened communities; creates jobs; and drives economic growth.  

“The availability of low-carbon energy and local jobs is a legitimate reason to be concerned about the premature retirement of New Jersey’s nuclear plants,” continued Barber. “But, a customer-funded bailout is not the answer. If PSEG can demonstrate financial need, a time-limited, zero-emissions credit should be considered, provided it is tailored to worker protections, community considerations, and a commitment to accelerate the adoption of clean energy.” 

“A statewide survey of voters earlier this year revealed that 89% believe that investing in clean, renewable energy is important to the overall health of New Jersey,” continued Gilbert.  “We now have an opportunity to make New Jersey a leader on clean energy, but these rushed, lame-duck subsidies could really set that effort back.”
 

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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our Energy Exchange blog

ReThink Energy NJ aims to inform and empower New Jersey citizens about the need for reduced use of fossil fuels and pipelines that threaten our preserved lands, water, environment, public health and communities; our goal is a swift transition to efficient, clean and renewable energy. ReThink Energy NJ is supported by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and Pinelands Preservation Alliance. For more information, visit rethinkenergynj.org and find ReThink Energy NJ on Facebook and Twitter @rethinkenergynj


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC