Letters to the Editor 2019

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In Cape May, some things are better together, like gentle breezes and walks on the Promenade, or historic Victorians and porch rocking chairs. 

New Jersey's Energy Master Plan (EMP) is a great example of what happens when things that belong together are kept apart by design. In this case, it's the use of natural gas as part of our energy future that's being forced out of our energy policy.

Simply put, the EMP is a great example of why our energy and environmental conversations have to happen together. 

An example of this can be seen in the recent approval by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for the state's first offshore wind project to connect into existing electrical grid infrastructure at B.L. England, a retired generating station in Cape May County. 

New Jersey energy consumers should applaud this decision to bring wind power to the state, but not too many of us know that solar and wind power need natural gas to survive. 

Why? Because renewable energy, like solar and wind, needs a backup energy source for when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing; and there currently isn't a scalable technology to store power generated by wind or solar. 

That's why we can't favor one energy source over another here in the Garden State. New Jersey needs to treat all sources of energy equally - especially when they are better together, like popcorn and a good movie; and, yes, like renewables and natural gas.

That means embracing the development of all types of energy. Renewable energy, like wind and solar, must be part of the long-term answer to solve our energy and environment equation and natural gas is critical to ensuring that we are able to arrive at a sustainable energy future while meeting demand without increasing energy costs for New Jersey families and small businesses. 

Additionally, the safe technologies needed to bring offshore wind transmission lines under the seabed and shoreline - by advanced horizontal directional drill - are the same technologies deployed to install safe underground natural gas pipelines. Too often, environmental organizations point to these technologies, and the underground crossing of federal or state waters, as reasons to oppose natural gas projects while ignoring that renewable projects need them, too. New Jersey deserves an honest debate. 

As they say, some things are just better together, which is definitely the case with natural gas, solar, and wind energy sources. With the new uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and its impact on our daily lives and economic future, New Jersey's energy policies must reflect this reality, or else they risk further harming the economy, costing the state jobs and deepening the burden on the workers and families who can least afford it. 

ED. NOTE: Michael Butler is Mid-Atlantic Executive Director of Consumer Energy Alliance, a U.S. consumer advocate supporting affordable, reliable energy for working families, seniors, and businesses across the nation.