The Democratic candidate for governor of New Jersey has sworn to make the state run on 100 percent clean energy by 2050, joining some states in intense opposition to President Donald Trump’s energy and environmental policy, The Washington Post reports.
If Phil Murphy beats GOP opponent Kim Guadagno and convinces the Democratic legislature to pass his energy agenda, it will be one of the most ambitious energy goals of any state. California tried to pass legislation earlier in the year to run entirely on clean energy by 2045, but the bills failed. Hawaii’s legislature passed a similar measure, however, according to NBC News.
Implementing Murphy’s plan will mean shutting down natural gas plants that provided more than half of the state’s electricity in 2016. The next largest source of power came from clean nuclear plants, providing 39 percent of the state’s energy needs in 2016, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Both natural gas and nuclear are stable sources of power not affected by minor shifts in weather. Murphy’s plan relies heavily on less steady wind energy. He has promised to bring 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind power online by 2030, WaPo reports.
The technology required to run a stable grid entirely on renewable sources such as wind and solar energy is not available, though it may be on its way. The issue was debated earlier in the year as California’s legislature haggled over its clean energy bill.
Forcing a state to run on renewable’s through regulation threatens grid stability and energy prices for consumers, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
“[Natural gas] is the backbone of energy production when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing,” Sempra Director of Communications Doug Kline said in an email to the Tribune earlier in the year. “This is not an ‘either/or’ equation: We need a mix of energy resources to maintain and ensure a reliable energy grid.”
Cal State Fullerton economics professor Robert Michaels raised concerns over increasing energy costs associated with a high reliance on renewables.
“It’s going to be expensive,” Michaels told the Tribune. “We already know there are a lot of problems with reliability, just with the percentage of intermittent renewables that you have here [in California]. And until, and probably not even after, we get a lot more in the way of usable battery storage or some way of storing this stuff, it’s simply not going to be feasible.”
Murphy has pledged to move forward with his vision for New Jersey’s power grid, if elected. Murphy says his plan will cut energy costs while having a positive environmental impact.
“I am prepared to be a governor of action, who turns our state’s thinking around, and who sets us on a future course to both do well and do good, and to prove that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive,” Murphy said in July when he first unrolled his energy plan. “We can base a new and stronger middle class on innovation and clean energy, and ensure all communities take part.”
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