NJEC Hosts Congressman Pallone
NJEC Hosts Congressman Pallone
New Jersey Energy Coalition Hosts
Congressman Pallone and Commissioner Fiordaliso
Press of Atlantic City
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP —
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone says the idea of American energy independence — energy production not reliant on foreign sources — has the general support of Congress, whether from defense, security or economic standpoints.
That’s about where it ends.
Then come disagreements over federal tax credits for renewable energy, environmental concerns about extracting natural gas from the ground, and the impacts of global climate change, he said.
“The only question is in what direction are we going to achieve energy independence, and to what extent are we going to be concerned about global climate change and have good environmental regulations so we can continue to protect the environment but also achieve energy independence,” said Pallone, a Democrat from the Sixth District (Middlesex, Monmouth), on Monday morning.
Pallone, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, spoke at a spring meeting of the Millville-based New Jersey Energy Coalition at Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club here.
Pallone said he also supported a “diverse portfolio” of energy production — from renewable energy such as solar and wind to nuclear energy, coal or natural gas.
“Anyone who says, in my opinion, you should cut off one or the other I think is mistaken if we really want to achieve energy independence and if we want to have a diverse portfolio,” he said.
Pallone said the government should prioritize wind and solar renewable energy projects and said tax credits and grants play an important role in incentivizing them.
But many grants promoting those projects have expired or run out of money, he said.
“Without those incentives, it’s going to be more and more difficult not only in New Jersey but across the county to move toward renewables,” he said. “And I believe like with any technology or any new source of energy, if you do subsidize it or help it out with tax credits or whatever over a period of time, it becomes cheaper and more viable. And I think it’s very unfortunate we let those expire.”
Natural gas has been a major theme in the today’s energy scene in the U.S. for the past several years.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is boosting U.S. production, making the fossil fuel cheaper and more economically practical in terms of powering generators and fueling cars than before.
That extraction method has also come under intense criticism, particularly in areas where the gas is extracted.
Pallone recalled a recent trip to visit his son, a college freshman in eastern Ohio.
“Whenever I travel out there to western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, it’s like the Wild West. You see all the farms … you see the fracking constantly. I do think it needs to have some regulation,” he said.
Pallone said he supported a bill called the “FRAC Act,” which has not passed, to require disclosure of the types of chemicals used in fracking.
Joseph Fiordaliso, a state Board of Public Utilities commissioner, also spoke at the
meeting, although event organizers told a crowd of about 50 — many representatives of utilities or other energy companies — that he could not talk about any issues before the BPU.
Fiordaliso said this was an historic time for energy in the U.S.
“We’re seeing innovations, technologies that I don’t think any of us ever dreamed of. Compressed natural gas filing stations, combined heat and power, micro grids,” he said.
The BPU ultimately decides what state-regulated utilities charge customers for electricity, natural gas and water.
Currently, both Atlantic City Electric and South Jersey Gas have rate cases pending before the BPU.
He did not discuss those cases, but he said of his role in deciding utility rates, “All boils down to fairness. The company should get a reasonable rate of return. The ratepayer should get safe, reliable service at a reasonable price. Are we striking that balance?”
“As I said before, sometimes I think we actually get it right. But it’s like everything else, it’s not always even. But I try to operate from a position of what’s fair to all parties. And then hopefully come to a decision and a conclusion from that.”