N.J. lawmaker pushes renewable energy goal of 80 percent by ’50

Solar panels on the roof of the building supplying energy to the AirTrain at Newark Liberty International Airport soak up the rays. A New Jersey lawmaker wants the state to aim for 80 percent renewable energy use by 2050. (AP file photo)

Solar panels on the roof of the building supplying energy to the AirTrain at Newark Liberty International Airport soak up the rays. A New Jersey lawmaker wants the state to aim for 80 percent renewable energy use by 2050. (AP file photo)

A measure advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee would set higher goals for the use of clean energy.

Senate Environment and Energy Committee chairman Bob Smith’s bill would require 80 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2050.

 

“That wouldn’t put is in the No. 1 spot,” said Smith, D-Middlesex. “It would move us up maybe into the top 10, but it’s not the most aggressive, and other places are well on the way to achieving it.”

Passage of the bill is the most important step the state can take toward a clean energy future, according to Tom Gilbert, campaign director for ReThink Energy New Jersey.

“We must set the bar much higher for renewable energy, and, in doing so, we will create more jobs with also cleaner air and healthier communities,” he said.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said the legislation would have a significant impact on air pollution and global warming.

“In a state that has been so devastated by sea-level rise and climate impacts, we need to reduce greenhouse gases,” Tittel said. “Even more critically, this will change our economy. It will move us to a green economy and create thousands and thousands of jobs.”

Mike Proto with Americans for Prosperity opposes the measure; he said the mandate would push up electricity prices and threaten the stability of the power grid.

“These are very inefficient sources. They’re non-dispatchable,” he said of the renewable energy sources. “They can’t meet demand when it peaks.”

Supporters say they will examine ways to reduce the costs of adding more solar power that will be needed to meet the new goals.

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