N.J. sets hearings on scaled-back state energy plan

    The first of three planned hearings on the Christie Administration’s revised energy master plan for New Jersey will be held in Newark Tuesday.

    Environmentalists say they have some concerns about the plan. New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said it takes the focus away from renewable energy and green jobs.

    “This plan promotes power lines that bring dirty power from out of state, gas-fired power plants which means more fracking in Pennsylvania that could pollute the Delaware and threaten New Jersey’s drinking water,” Tittel said.

    Large-energy users, however, support the plan.

    Hal Bozarth, the executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, said the proposal to develop more natural gas-fired power plants will help reduce energy costs.

    “We’re losing jobs and in the large-energy sector jobs are contingent upon cheaper electricity than what we have now,” Bozarth said. “It’s why we’ve lost so many manufacturing jobs. We can’t afford to be here.”

    Bob Martin, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the Christie Administration is committed to renewable energy, but the market should drive its development.

    “We’re trying to make sure the industry continues to grow but at the same time we’re trying to make sure that the price of those keep coming down because there is a cost to renewables,” Marin said. “Those costs are worth making but we need to sure that over time we continue to drive down that cost because New Jersey still remains one of the highest-cost states for electricity.”

    The New Jersey Business and Industry Association says cheaper electricity would reduce the costs for companies that use a lot of power and help keep jobs in the state.

    Other hearings on the energy master plan will be held next month in Trenton and Pomona.

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