Coalition Chairman Ed Salmon Testifies Before NJ Senate Environment Committee

Coalition Chairman Ed Salmon Testifies Before NJ Senate Environment Committee

Posted at December 14, 2009 | By : | Categories : Press Release |

Dr. Edward H. Salmon, Chairman of the NJ Energy Coalition, tesitified on behalf of the organization on December 14th befor the NJ State Senate Enviroment Committee in responce to proposed Senate Bill 3041. The Bill was introduced to address the enviormental degradation of the Barnegate Bay, but if enacted, it would place restrictions on the Oyster Creek Generating Station that could force the facility to cease its operations.

A full copy of Dr. Salmon’s testimony is provided below:

Testimony of Dr. Edward H. Salmon, Chairman
New Jersey Energy Coalition
Before the Senate Environment Committee
Monday, December 14, 2009 – 1:00 PM
Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

Thank you for this opportunity to testify on Senate Bill 3041. My name is Dr. Edward H. Salmon, Chairman of the New Jersey Energy Coalition. Most of you know me as I have served in public office for over 26 years as a Mayor, Freeholder Director, State Legislator, Member of the Governor’s Cabinet and President of the Board of Public Utilities.

For the past 20 years I have had experience working with energy issues on both the state and national level. During my time on the Board of Public Utilities I served as Vice President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, an organization of state utility regulators that was formed on March 5, 1889.

In August 2007, my partner Richard Mroz and I launched a new statewide organization – The New Jersey Energy Coalition. The Coalition’s focus is to provide a reliable third-party voice in the discussion on New Jersey’s energy needs. The Coalition was very involved in the New Jersey Energy Master Plan and has provided discussion and educational initiatives on energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, generation needs, and transmission challenges, to name a few. Since our inception, the NJ Energy Coalition has grown to include over 30 statewide labor, business and civic organizations in addition to over 30 select state leaders known as Distinguished New Jerseyans. Some of our members include: NJ SEED; NJ State Chamber of Commerce; NJ Business and Industry Association; Chemistry Council of New Jersey; NJ Alliance for Action; Southern New Jersey Development Council; AFL-CIO; NJ IBEW; NJ Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (NJ LECET)

Our mission is simple: raise public awareness and generate public support for the increased production of clean, affordable and reliable energy for our state. As our energy demand steadily increases and our state leaders look to close that gap, it is critical that the discussion on new generation include a voice for clean energy generators, especially those that are reliable baseload sources. New Jersey’s fleet of nuclear reactors provides our state with 51.8% of our energy supply, and they do so without producing any carbon emissions or air pollutants.

Being conscious of New Jersey’s natural environment and taking steps to ensure that it is protected are important functions of our state government. However, we must be cautious in our application of environmental regulation and legislation, and we must be sensitive enough to prevent cases where environmental oversight is so extreme that it threatens to undermine economic stability and growth without just cause.

Senate Bill 3041 is an example of such a case. Its passage would force the Oyster Creek Generating Station in Lacey Township, NJ to shut down its operations. The closure of this energy production facility would have dire consequences to the local area, the region and to the State of New Jersey.

In this tough economic climate, we can not afford to consciously lose a single New Jersey job. Oyster Creek employs over 700 individuals, not including the number of contractors and local businesses that depend on the plant’s operation for their business. Passage of Senate Bill 3041 would put those people out of work. That is a startling but simple fact. But the economic impact of Oyster Creek’s closure would not stop there. In providing a low-cost, competitive source of baseload power, the facility is estimated to reduce energy costs paid by consumers by $190 million annually. Oyster Creek also creates $129 million of economic stimulus for New Jersey each year. Its closure would weaken our statewide economy, raise energy costs for our citizens and impact us with a combined loss of over $320 million in annual economic benefits, all at a time when our nation and state continue to struggle through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Oyster Creek supplies New Jersey with 6 percent of its electricity in addition to playing a critical role in supporting energy reliability throughout the region. PJM, the regional transmission operator, has projected that it would need to invest at least $100 million in transmission upgrades to deal with the overloads that Oyster Creek’s retirement would cause. The citing and developing of such transmission upgrades is time consuming and costly; costs that the customers would be required to pay. Without Oyster Creek, New Jersey’s citizens would be unnecessarily forced to pay more for unreliable electricity when they can least afford it.

And as the environment is the chief concern of this committee, I would challenge each legislator to look at the big picture. Nuclear generation is the only baseload power source in the state that does not produce carbon emissions or greenhouse gases, which as of last week were deemed a threat to public health by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If our state is to meet the ambitious goals of the NJ Energy Master Plan and achieve the carbon reduction standards of Governor Corzine’s Executive Order #54, nuclear generation must continue to play a major role in our clean energy portfolio. Development of renewable energy like wind and solar is an exciting part of the mix, but these sources are years from efficiently generating significant capacity and, even then, they will not replace the constant reliability of a baseload power station.

The facts speak for themselves. Economically, environmentally, and for the sake of a reliable energy supply, New Jersey cannot afford to lose Oyster Creek, especially during this crippling national financial crisis. There are many factors affecting New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay. A solution to this issue must be achieved through a collaborative effort that comprehensively addresses all the issues at play, not one that only targets Oyster Creek. It is my hope that we can put Senate Bill 3041 to rest and move on to find a course of action that protects the Barnegat Bay environment without sacrificing the enormous economic center that is Oyster Creek or jeopardizing the livelihood of the people who work there.

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The mission of the NJ Energy Coalition is to generate public support for the production and delivery of affordable, clean, reliable, American energy to help meet New Jersey’s growing energy needs. The Coalition seeks to achieve this goal through increasing the public’s awareness of the need to keep existing clean energy providers operational, to develop new affordable clean sources of in-state generation and to maintain a suitable transmission and distribution infrastructure for delivering electricity to our citizens.

For more information, please contact:

Bob Marshall
Phone:856-308-3656
bmarshall@njenergycoalition.org