On February 15, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order committing the state to 100% clean energy by 2035. This commitment will position New Jersey as one of the first states in the country to fully transition to renewable energy sources, and it is an ambitious and progressive goal that has garnered a lot of attention.
To achieve this goal, the executive order outlines several measures, including the development of a strategic plan for the state’s transition to clean energy, the establishment of an Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, and the creation of a task force to identify barriers and opportunities for the deployment of renewable energy.
“These bold targets and carefully crafted initiatives signal our unequivocal commitment to swift and concrete climate action today,” said Governor Murphy. “We’ve turned our vision for a greener tomorrow into a responsible and actionable roadmap to guide us, and it’s through that pragmatic, evidence-based approach that we will ultimately arrive at our destination. Combined with our federal partnerships reinforced through the Inflation Reduction Act, these comprehensive initiatives will better protect and prepare every New Jersey community, including those on the front lines of climate change who have previously been left out and left behind.”
Governor Murphy’s announcement has been met with enthusiasm from clean energy advocates and environmental groups, who see this as a crucial step towards a more sustainable future. According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global carbon emissions must be reduced by at least 50% by 2030 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
“Governor Murphy’s new goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035 is an incredibly important and sensible policy initiative that solidifies New Jersey as a leader at the forefront of the battle to address the climate crisis as one of only two states plus the District of Columbia with a 100 percent clean energy goal in the 2030s,” said BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “We will continue to thoughtfully and prudently work to achieve the Governor’s vision for a cleaner and healthier New Jersey with a robust and equitable clean energy economy comprised of good, union, family-sustaining and community-building jobs.”
New Jersey’s Transition to Clean Energy
New Jersey has already made significant strides in its transition to clean energy. In 2018, the state passed a landmark clean energy bill that established a goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030. Since then, the state has increased its solar capacity and expanded its offshore wind industry, with several large-scale projects in development.
In July of 2021, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) approved a new solar incentive program that will enable the state to add up to 3,750 megawatts (MW) of new solar generation by 2026, thereby doubling its solar capacity. The Successor Solar Incentive Program, also known as the “SuSI” Program, is the outcome of a three-year Solar Transition process, which was directed by the Clean Energy Act of 2018. The program is designed to replace the State’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program with new incentives that encourage solar development and reduce the cost for ratepayers. Once fully implemented, solar energy is projected to generate around 10% of New Jersey’s total electricity needs.
In 2019, the state passed a law requiring 3.5 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, and this target was later increased to 7.5 gigawatts by 2035. In 2021, The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) chose Ørsted’s Ocean Wind 2 offshore wind energy project for a 20-year Offshore Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) award, following the State’s second competitive solicitation for offshore wind energy. The project, which is set to generate 1,148 MW, will allow Ørsted to develop the remaining part of its Ocean Wind federal lease area and provide power to over half a million homes in New Jersey.
New Jersey has set an ambitious target for energy storage, aiming to achieve 2,000 megawatts of installed energy storage by 2030, which is one of the most ambitious storage targets in the nation. Energy storage is crucial for enhancing the resiliency of the electric grid, reducing carbon emissions, and facilitating the transition to 100% clean energy in New Jersey.
The Governor presented six fundamental elements that will establish the basis for a more sustainable, eco-friendly, and stronger New Jersey:
- 100% clean energy by 2035 through clean energy market mechanisms
- Installing zero-carbon-emission space heating and cooling systems in 400,000 homes and 20,000 commercial properties and making 10% of all low-to-moderate income properties electrification-ready by 2030
- Planning for the future of natural gas utility in New Jersey
- Allocating $70 million towards lowering consumer upfront costs for medium- and heavy-duty EV adoption
- Adopting Advanced Clean Cars II in New Jersey, requiring all new cars and light-duty truck sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035
- Providing enhanced flood protection for homeowners, businesses, and infrastructure against increased flooding in riverine and coastal areas through NJ PACT REAL rules.
The transition to clean energy is also expected to bring economic benefits to the state. According to a 2021 report by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the clean energy industry is projected to create 27,000 new jobs and add $4.8 billion to the state’s economy by 2030.