Behind New Jersey’s ambitions for clean energy equity and offshore wind

July 9, 2020 by  
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Behind New Jersey’s ambitions for clean energy equity and offshore wind Sarah Golden Thu, 07/09/2020 – 01:00 If you want to know what state-level clean energy leadership looks like, look no further than New Jersey.  Since the beginning of the year, the Garden State has made headlines for three initiatives: its plans to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 ; its investment in offshore wind ; and its proposal to create an Office of Clean Energy and Equity .   All three are commendable in their own right. They show how a state can signal the opportunities inherent in the clean energy economy, and the importance that it works for everyone.  One person at the center of these initiatives is Joseph Fiordaliso, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. At the end of June, I talked to Fiordaliso to better understand his perspective on the potential of clean energy, the importance of equity within all initiatives and how states can lead the way forward. The interview is edited for length and clarity.  Sarah Golden: I wanted to talk to you about the Office of Clean Energy and Equity. Am I right in thinking this is the first office of this type in the United States?  Joe Fiordaliso: I don’t want to say “yes” to that because I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that it’s the first office for the Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The purpose is to ensure the fact that every community, regardless of income, regardless of where they live, is afforded the opportunity to participate in the green revolution that is occurring in the state of New Jersey. And we cannot be successful, looking at a very selfish perspective, if everyone is not involved. And everyone should be involved because everyone pays into it. And to say it’s only for the super-rich doesn’t sit well with me or Gov. [Phil] Murphy.  Golden: I was taking a look at the timeline. I know [State Sen. Troy]  Singleton introduced the bill in mid-May; you vowed to create this office in June. Is this in any way inspired, or is it rising in prominence, because of the Black Lives Matters movement?  Fiordaliso : No. This has always been our goal. And Black lives do matter, by the way. And this has always been our goal. It’s always been on the governor’s agenda. Environmental justice and, what I get out of the environmental justice theme of the governor, is what I said before — that everyone has the opportunity to participate regardless of their economic standing.  We just passed a very, I think, most impressive energy efficiency ruling here in the state of New Jersey. The BPU did that just a couple of weeks ago now, and I believe it’s the most progressive. This is the one thing that is going to help low and moderate-income folks to participate in the green revolution. So I’m very excited about that. It is really an agenda that is all-inclusive. And I’m so proud of what we’re doing here. So many programs are geared towards those folks that can afford to participate. This is not. This is to afford the opportunity to everybody. And I’m thrilled that we’re taking this approach. I’m thrilled that the governor is one of the most progressive in the country, and we’re following his lead and the lead of many of our legislators. And it really is gratifying.  Golden: Why is it important to establish an Office of Clean Energy Equity in addition to having such a progressive energy efficiency initiative? Fiordaliso : To monitor and ensure that everyone has the opportunity. Many clean energy programs throughout the United States, including originally here in New Jersey, we’re so excited about initiating programs but less excited about tracking those programs. Less excited about ensuring that everyone has the ability to participate. That is extremely important. This office will, I hope, ensure the fact that we are monitoring this closely, and if certain programs are not reaching the general population, then we have to tweak them. Then we have to revise them. Then we have to alter them. But I think this is extremely important to point out, not only our successes but our failures. If we don’t know what our failures are, we can’t fix it.  It’s important for us to seize the moment; carpe diem. Seize the day. That’s our obligation in government right now, seize that day. One of the core missions of this office is going to be to point out the deficiencies and say, “Hey, we’re falling short here. Let’s find out why we’re falling short. Let’s find out why more people aren’t participating. Are there barriers there that we didn’t realize are there?” And fix it. Remove those barriers and continue to move forward. And I think that’s our obligation. We’re not only seeing certain people, we’re serving everybody.  Golden: I’m struck by the opportunities that COVID represents to rebuild the economy. I was looking at an op-ed Singleton wrote; one line that stuck out to me is, “As New Jersey works to establish a path to economic recovery, as elected public servants, we must seize the moment to work toward a future that is affordable, equitable, accessible and sustainable.” There are so many different realms right now where we get to reimagine because everything is starting from ground zero. I’m curious about the moment we’re in to be able to rethink and rebuild things, but also need to justify investments when state budgets are so strained.  Fiordaliso : Very good question. We are in the process of establishing a massive evaluation program to ensure the fact that we’re getting the best bang for the buck, so to speak, out of all of the programs we have in the state of New Jersey because the taxpayers, one way or another, are paying for this. And they have the right to know whether or not we’re spending their money in a good fashion and if we’re not, we’d better adjust the programs and eliminate those that are not giving us the best bang for the bucks. So we’re in this massive program to evaluate every single program. This has given us an opportunity, this crisis that we’re in, because out of crisis, many times, comes good things. We don’t see them initially, but it makes us rethink certain things, and makes us see what we’re doing. These are all things that we evaluate and continue to evaluate more and more as we go down this road to a clean energy economy. We failed to mention, many, many times, that there is economic opportunity in the clean energy revolution. And the clean energy revolution can ignite a massive economic renewal. And every state, I would assume, is looking at an economic renewal after, or during, this pandemic. The programs we’re initiating, they will create jobs.  Let’s take offshore wind as an example. We’ve positioned ourselves with the wind port that was approved [in June] to be the focal point for the supply chain for the entire Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. New Jersey is well-positioned to do that. That brings along 1,500 jobs, that alone, not including the jobs of the wind industry that are in the thousands.  So economic opportunity exists. And it’s important for us to seize the moment; carpe diem. Seize the day. That’s our obligation in government right now, seize that day. Because that opportunity may evade us tomorrow.  Golden: While we’re on the subject of offshore wind, can you talk about the potential for clean energy to jumpstart the economy?  Fiordaliso : I’m going to go back just a little bit, if I may, to solar energy.  In the early 2000s, we started the solar energy initiative here in the state of New Jersey. It has been a very successful program. Like every program, it needed a little boost to get started, and we provided that boost here in New Jersey with grants and incentives and so on. Today, we have over 140,000 solar installations. It has created over 7,000 jobs here in New Jersey, has contributed to the economic diversity here in New Jersey, and we expect the same to occur in the wind industry — but even on a bigger scale.  When we’re finished with our offshore wind, millions of New Jersey residents will get energy that’s generated by windmills. Keep in mind, and California knows this better than anybody, most of the clean energy initiatives have emanated from the states on up. We have gotten very little encouragement from the federal government, and over the past 3.5 years we’ve gotten even less encouragement from the federal government.  Golden: One of the things that I found amazing about the investment in offshore wind and the ambitious targets of 7.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035 is you’re talking about investing in a whole new industry, a new technology and bringing it to the United States. Why is it significant to be embracing a new technology at this moment?  Fiordaliso: It’s significant because it’s going to help us get to our goal. It’s significant because of the economic advancements it’s going to bring to our state. It’s significant because of the jobs that it will bring to our state. And, when we’re finished with our offshore wind, millions of New Jersey residents will get energy that’s generated by windmills.  The jobs that that brings, the investments that that brings, are probably much more than we’re anticipating today. So it is exciting, but it is also something that’s going to transition our economy to a large extent to a whole new, different industry.  So these are the things we’re looking at. It’s the idea that we have to bring our fellow citizens along and help to educate them and the benefits of renewable energy. Not only is it the fact that it might save our planet, not only the fact that we have a moral obligation, I believe, for our children, grandchildren and subsequent generation to improve this earth and try and mitigate the traumatic effects of climate change. Because whether we want to admit it or note, whether the federal government wants to admit there’s climate change or not, it’s here.  Pull Quote It’s important for us to seize the moment; carpe diem. Seize the day. That’s our obligation in government right now, seize that day. When we’re finished with our offshore wind, millions of New Jersey residents will get energy that’s generated by windmills. Topics Energy & Climate Renewable Energy Equity & Inclusion Environmental Justice Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Behind New Jersey’s ambitions for clean energy equity and offshore wind

Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

August 14, 2017 by  
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Harness the fact that change is constant to create jobs, bolster our economy and improve our lives.

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Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

August 14, 2017 by  
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Harness the fact that change is constant to create jobs, bolster our economy and improve our lives.

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Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

Infographic: The World’s Greenest Countries

February 15, 2017 by  
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With ice caps melting at an alarming rate, worldwide coral reefs at risk of dying, and the fact that 2016 was the hottest year ever on record, we are becoming more aware of the role we play in combating global warming and saving the environment….

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Infographic: The World’s Greenest Countries

The 9 Biggest Recycling Mistakes People Make

November 11, 2016 by  
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There’s no way around it: Recycling can be confusing. Given the fact that policies and procedures differ from municipality to municipality, it can be difficult to know what to trash and what to toss in the blue bin. Junk removal service Junk…

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The 9 Biggest Recycling Mistakes People Make

Most canned foods still contain toxic BPA

April 2, 2016 by  
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Despite the fact that the FDA supports the removal of endocrine-disrupting BPA from cans for over 6 years, a new report reveals that 67% of canned goods still contain the toxic substance. Additionally, many BPA-free goods use a alternatives that are suspected carcinogens. READ MORE >

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Most canned foods still contain toxic BPA

PaperKarma App Sets Out to Reduce Junk Mail Waste

February 21, 2012 by  
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If you’ve ever found yourself at your mailbox, baffled by the fact that you’ve received nothing but a pile of junk mail that will only find its way to the trash, there’s an app for that. PaperKarma, a smartphone application released in early…

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PaperKarma App Sets Out to Reduce Junk Mail Waste

How Solar Power is Spreading in Africa and Asia (Video)

October 21, 2011 by  
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Voice of America /via While friends of coal and oil continue to try and scupper the renewable energy revolution that’s underway, the fact is that whole communities in poor, rural areas are getting their first taste of electricity—and they are doing so without ever having to use fossil fuels…. Read the full story on TreeHugger

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How Solar Power is Spreading in Africa and Asia (Video)

Seven products that should not be a part of your green home

October 10, 2011 by  
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Shivam Singh: Products that should not be a part of your green home Not only these products pose a threat towards the environment but also they are harmful for humans. With every passing day, people are becoming more and more aware of their responsibilities and duties towards the environment. If we want to maintain the balance in nature then we need to administer a number of changes in our lifestyles. For instance, there are a number of products which must not be a part of your home. Some of these products are listed below. 1. Mercury bulbs The mercury and the filament bulbs have been in use for more than a century. However, a large fraction of power which they consume is converted into the heat energy which is thus wasted and only a small fraction is utilized as the useful light energy. Whereas a compact fluorescent lamp popularly known as CFLs uses only a small part of the energy that a regular light bulb uses. Also, regular bulbs contain mercury which is very toxic in nature. Using CFLs not only helps in the efficient use of energy, but also it lowers down your electricity bills. 2. Plastic shopping bags What used to be the best thing about plastic bags has turned out to be their greatest drawback, they became so much popular because of the fact that they are very durable, however, now their durability has become a point of concern. Plastics are not bio-degradable which means that simply throwing them out is not going to get you rid of it. Also, burning them causes a lot of air population because they release toxic and poisonous fumes. Even in developed countries like USA, only 2 percent of the plastic bags get recycled, the rest 98% is dumped into landfills or blown out to sea. The best thing that you can do to help the environment is restrict their usage, in fact, avoiding them completely will be much better. Try using cloth or paper bags in place of them. 3. Chemical fertilizers Although it may appear that chemical fertilizers cause a phenomenal growth in the overall crop production, but this is also a fact that these chemical fertilizers have led to immense damage to our water supply system and are the major factor behind the algal blooms. They don’t decompose completely in the soil and when it rains, they are washed down to the water bodies like streams, rivers and oceans. The balance of our delicate water system gets disturbed causing the death of its inhabitants and degrading the water quality. We will recommend you to prefer organic fertilizers over the chemical ones. For small gardens, you can create compost by your own which will not only be environmental friendly but also very inexpensive in comparison to chemical fertilizers. 4. Antibacterial products Besides interfering with the development of the immune system development, the antibacterial drugs have also contributed towards the emergence of new strains of antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs”. Triclosan is the most common antibacterial additive and its widespread use can be understood by the fact that it is found in more than 100 household products ranging from toothpastes and soaps to undergarments. These chemicals gradually accumulate in the body. You must avoid using products containing anti-bacterial additives. Try to remain clean, not germ free because these less harmful germs contribute towards the development of strong immune system in us. 5. Chemical insecticides and pesticides The chemical insecticides and pesticides are very popular among the gardeners because of the immediate relief which they provide from the pests and insects. However, they are equally harmful even for humans. For instance, the active ingredient in Round-Up which is a very popular weed killer is known to cause reproductive harms and kidney damage. The active ingredient in roach-killer Raid is cypermethrin, this is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant and even shows negative effects on the central nervous system. So, it is much better to use the natural and organic pest and weed control products. Although these organic products will not give you instant results, but believe us, they are equally effective and that too without any side effects. 6. Air fresheners The air fresheners contain chemicals which are extremely toxic and are known to aggravate respiratory ailments like asthma. Chemicals like phthalates are found even in those which have been labeled as natural and pure, these phthalates cause reproductive problems, hormonal abnormalities and birth defects. Instead of using these room fresheners, you can try simmering cloves and cinnamon. Let the fresh air in by leaving few windows open. Consider boiling a pot of water with few drops of your favorite essential oil. 7. Non-Stick cookware The non-stick cookware became an instant success when they were first introduced in the market in the 1960s. The utensils which had been in use before the release of non stick utensils, required to be soaked for hours and then had to be scoured with steel wool in order to clean them. However, there is one serious side effect of these non stick Teflon pans, the PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) coating which makes these cookwares non stick is known to release toxic gases at high temperatures. These gases have been linked with cancer, reproductive damage, organ failure and other harmful health effects. Therefore, it is recommended to cook foods on medium heat or less while using Teflon utensils. In fact, the safest option is to avoid them completely, and in place of them use the stainless steel, anodized aluminum or cast iron pans.

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Seven products that should not be a part of your green home

The Ginormous Task of Saving Forests from Climate Change & Us (Video)

October 3, 2011 by  
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Photo credit: squeaks2569 via Flickr/CC BY Let Us Count the Ways Humans Are Killing Forests … There’s a lot to discuss in this great New York Times video about the toll human impact has levied on Arizona’s forests: There’s the fact that human-caused climate change is causing an already dry region to become ever more vulnerable to wildfires. There’s the fact that well-intentioned but shortsighted policies intended to prevent forest fires have instead made severe burns more likely. There’s logging, but in the scale of things, t… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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The Ginormous Task of Saving Forests from Climate Change & Us (Video)

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