Letter – Murphy Needs to Stand Against Nuclear Subsidies Bill

Murphy Needs to Stand Against Nuclear Subsidies Bill

During a press conference today, Governor-Elect Phil Murphy stated that New Jersey’s nuclear plants should stay open as “part of a clean energy mix” but should not interfere with renewable energy. We believe that the bill, S3560 (Sweeney/Smith), that would support Chris Christie’s negotiations to give PSEG subsidies for their nuclear plants in New Jersey, would hurt renewables. Under this bill, PSEG could start receiving subsidies within a year, despite being profitable enough to have bid into auction. It also includes subsidies to fix up their plants. The bill goes minimally through 2030 but can be extended. The bill has been worked on behind-the-scenes with little opportunity for public examination and input. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statement:

“We think that Phil Murphy should have come out with a stronger statement opposing the nuclear subsidy legislation. This issue should be dealt with under his Administration and not Christie’s Lame Duck. We believe that if this bill passes, it will tie Murphy’s hands in dealing with energy policy during his Administration. We agree with Phil Murphy that nuclear plants should NOT interfere with renewable energy, but we know that it will with these subsidies. Therefore, he should oppose the bill outright in its entirety.

“If Murphy really wants to accomplish his goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050, they he should not allow Christie to dictate energy policy for his future and future Administrations to come. This bill for nuclear subsidies would block, if not prevent, that from happening. Combined with cheap natural gas, this bill will block and stop renewable energy and green jobs from moving forward in NJ. Phil Murphy must stand up for the people and environment of New Jersey as he said he would and work to stop this nuclear bailout bill from going through.

“The Legislature and Governor Christie are trying to rush through the biggest energy tax and corporate subsidy in state history. I estimate the subsidy to be $250 million a year for PSEG and could hirer. They want to take billions of NJ ratepayer money and give it to PSEG to subsidize nuclear power plants that are already making money. What’s worse is that they’re rushing it through in lame duck without proper scrutiny and oversight. This is how you know they’re up to no good. there is zero justification for any nuclear subsidies. It’s nothing more than giving PSEH a blank check from the ratepayers.

“They’ve already received billions in subsidies and now they want more. The Salem plants kill billions of fish a year because PSEG has lobbied to prevent them from having to build cooling towers. That is in itself another environmental subsidy. They dump superheated water into the Bay, hurting water quality and killing fish. PSEG says they’re green but the only thing green about them is the money they want from ratepayers. They can’t be green with that much uranium mining pollution and nuclear waste.

“PSEG spread misinformation by comparing this bill to the ones in Illinois or New York. In those states, their nuclear subsidies are tied to renewable energy goals and replacing the plants with renewables when they close. New York’s nuclear subsidy was tied to a goal of 50% renewable by 2030 as well as closing Indian Point and coal plants. In Illinois, the subsidy was attached to money for renewable energy. Unlike bills in other states, this nuclear subsidy bill does not have any language that protects or promotes renewable energy. This means that when the plants close, they can be replaced with natural gas.

“New Jersey used to be a leader in clean energy until Governor Christie was elected. Before he came in office, there were 11,000 solar jobs in the state, but now there are only 6,000. We used to do forty megawatts a month and now we’re doing eight. As a result, New Jersey has dropped from and 2nd to 8th in solar in the nation. He has tried to subsidize gas power plants and continuously blocked offshore wind. The amount of greenhouse gasses emitted in New Jersey has been increasing in the last couple years

“Governor Christie is trying to dictate energy policy for New Jersey for the next forty years and Phil Murphy is refusing to stand up to him. The New Jersey Sierra Club strongly opposes any subsidies for nuclear power plants. Our main goal is to make New Jersey 100% renewable by 2050.  We want to make sure we’re not subsidizing nuclear plants, but more importantly that when the plants close, they need to be replaced by renewable energy. The people overwhelming want clean energy, not more money for nuclear. Governor Christie is siding with the utilities over the people and environment of New Jersey and we need Governor-Elect Murphy to not do the same. He must do what he can to stop this bill and protect renewable energy in New Jersey.”