Murphy Signs Energy Bills, Issues Energy Master Plan Executive Order
Governor Phil Murphy last Wednesday signed two key pieces of legislation that will affect energy policy and production in New Jersey for years to come. During a signing ceremony to enact these bills, he also signed an Executive Order that kick-starts the process to reshape New Jersey’s renewable energy portfolio.
Murphy signed into law a controversial bill that would subsidize New Jersey’s nuclear power plants; specifically, it will allow plant operators to apply for zero-emission credits totaling roughly $300 million per year. The bill’s enactment ends months of Trenton drama that included Governor-elect Murphy calling for the bill to be rewritten to include incentives for wind and solar; charges by environmentalists that Murphy was leaving them at the alter; and intense lobbying by the State’s 800-pound energy gorilla, PSEG. Murphy ultimately determined that the subsidy was needed to protect nuclear in the face of stiff competition from natural gas.
When Murphy inserted himself into negotiations over the nuclear subsidy bill in December, it was to insist that incentives also be enacted to spur the development of solar and offshore wind. Those incentives ultimately took the form of two renewable energy bills, one of which was signed on Wednesday. S2314 directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) to achieve half of the State’s total electricity from renewable sources by 2050. The renewable bill also sets aggressive energy storage targets.
Murphy used the bill signing as the opportunity to issue Executive Order 28 directing NJBPU to start work on a new Energy Master Plan (EMP) designed to get New Jersey to 100% clean energy by 2050, one of Murphy’s signature campaign pledges. The EMP is to be completed and submitted by June 1, 2019.
ACECNJ’s 6th annual Design Summit
The American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey (ACECNJ) held its 6th annual Design Summit last Wednesday.
This signature annual event is a collaboration between ACECNJ, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and is focused on strengthening communication, coordination and cooperation between the agencies and the consulting profession.
NJDOT Acting Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti provided welcoming remarks and focused on her efforts to deliver results for the state. FHWA Division Administrator Robert Clark also delivered remarks, discussing efforts between the agencies to deliver important capital projects and to maintain our region’s infrastructure to a state of good repair.
Over 325 attendees participated in a full day of workshops, presentations and panel discussions of best practices and lessons learned. Professional Engineers licensed in New Jersey and New York received continuing education credit hours.
NorthStar Strategies is proud to represent ACECNJ, providing association management, events management and advocacy, and congratulates ACECNJ on this signature event.
Murphy Names Senior Advisor on Gun Violence
Earlier this month, Governor Murphy named Bill Castner, a seasoned Democratic strategist, lobbyist and lawyer to a newly created post of senior advisor on gun violence. The announcement came at a press event featuring former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly. Castner will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating New Jersey’s gun policy, working with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on possible litigation, and helping Murphy expand protections beyond New Jersey’s borders. Castner has a long resume on gun safety measures, including work on the “one-gun-a-month” law limiting handgun purchases. Murphy has made a number of significant gun policy announcements early in his term; he established a gun coalition which will share data and work toward reducing gun trafficking; has has also directed AG Grewal to publish gun crime information online. Murphy has also indicated that he would sign a series of gun control measures passed by the Legislature. Castner is a respected pro who we’re confident will help Murphy advance his gun safety agenda.
What’s on Tap for June?
The United States Supreme Court recently struck down a 1992 federal law that limited sports betting. New Jersey has long been at the vanguard of the issue. New Jersey voters approved a sports betting referendum in 2011 and in 2012 the New Jersey Legislature passed a law legalizing sports betting. That law and a subsequent lawsuit by sports leagues led to the Supreme Court ruling. Now that the federal law has been ruled unconstitutional, New Jersey is moving to establish a regulatory framework for betting. Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Governor Murphy are trying to work quickly to get regs in place so casinos in Atlantic City and other facilities like Monmouth Park Racetrack can start taking bets. Look for all sides to get this resolved in June.
Murphy, Sweeney and Coughlin continue to work toward consensus on New Jersey’s Fiscal 2019 budget. Still undecided are key revenue generators proposed by Murphy including a millionaires’ tax and repeal of a previously approved reduction in the State’s sales tax. New Jersey’s Constitution requires a balanced budget to be in place by June 30th for the fiscal year beginning July 1.