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SUMMARY

State-wide costs to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 are measured at more than $100bn.

By Dale Lunan

The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), a national group advocating for “sensible” energy and environmental policies, said September 15 households in New Jersey would face added costs of more than $28,000 each if the state moves forward with a gas ban under its 2020 Energy Master Plan (EMP).

Echoing a similar study into the costs of forced electrification in Maryland released earlier this year, the latest CEA report examines the cost implications of New Jersey’s plan to achieve 50% carbon neutrality by 2030 and 100% neutrality by 2050.

The total cost to New Jersey of achieving 100% neutrality, the CEA says in its report, “will surely exceed $100bn by 2050.”

The EMP says the carbon neutrality goal can be met by a transition to renewable energy sources, but it also “takes the unnecessary and counter-productive step of all but eliminating affordable and reliable natural gas as an option” for New Jersey consumers, the CEA says.

Like the Maryland study, the New Jersey report examines the costs of switching gas-fired appliances to electric units and bolstering the power grid to accommodate New Jersey’s “electrify everything” aspirations.

“With three out of four New Jersey households relying on natural gas for home heating, banning it would be an unnecessary, costly blow to working families and small businesses,” said Mike Butler, the CEA’s mid-Atlantic executive director. “The average cost of $28,000 to buy and install new appliances at home is enormous, and unfortunately, it is only the tip of the iceberg of costs the EMP would bring.” 

The CEA’s report highlights recent research from Princeton University suggesting that moving to net zero would increase peak demand on New Jersey’s electricity grid by 50% and require the replacement of nearly 14,000 MW of traditional fuel (largely natural gas) generating capacity, which now meets about 60% of the state’s total power needs.

“In addition, the study estimates that in excess of $50bn will need to be invested in utilities’ distribution systems by 2050 to support the electric load increases at a cost of $15,000/household,” the CEA report says. “Add that to an estimated $60bn in capital investment for wind and solar and per-household costs to ‘electrify everything’ soar to $33,000.”