TRENTON, N.J. – Two years after the government promised to provide the bill for Gov. Phil Murphy’s energy master plan, which would force every building in New Jersey to switch to electric heating, the public is still waiting for answers. Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space want government energy mandates put on hold until the costs and benefits of electric heating have been reported on.
The assemblymen are co-sponsors of a bill (A2937), sponsored by Assemblyman John DiMaio, that requires the Department of Community Affairs to hold at least six public hearings in 24 months to collect public comment on the cost and benefits of electric heating systems in homes and commercial buildings. Those findings would be published within six months of the hearings completion.
That department, as well as the Board of Public Utilities and Department of Environmental Protection, would be prohibited from adopting rules and regulations that would mandate the use of electric heating or water systems until a report on costs is issued.
The bill is in response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s energy master plan, invoked by executive order in May 2018, which requires state agencies to develop a plan to make New Jersey 100% clean energy by 2050. The ratepayer cost estimate for Murphy’s plan was to be released by the end of 2019.
“I don’t start a home renovation project without first getting an estimate and making sure I have the cash or credit to start. Yet that’s exactly what this governor is doing to the people of New Jersey,” Wirths (R-Sussex) said. “It is almost April 2022 and there is still no official word on what this so-called green plan is going to cost New Jersey home- and business-owners. If a contractor offered me only a wink and nod and wanted to start renovating anyway, I’d tell him to take a hike.”
About 75% of households heat with natural gas at a fourth of the cost of electric heat. The Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey estimates that single-family homeowners will spend at least $20,000 to retrofit their homes with electric HVAC systems.
“It’s telling that the only way Governor Murphy’s energy master plan even saw the light of day was through executive order. There is a bipartisan effort in the legislature to stop this forced switch to all electric,” Space (R-Sussex) said. “Individuals should be allowed to freely decide to switch from natural gas to electric to heat and cool their own homes and businesses. The government can incentivize that, but should absolutely not mandate it.”