NJ Politics Digest: Feds Might Quash State Plan to Have Residents Bail Out Nuke Plant

Are Gov. Phil Murphy's plans to combat climate change and promote clean energy sources in danger?

A nuclear power plant.
A nuclear power plant. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Gov. Phil Murphy approved legislation forcing all the state’s ratepayers to pay subsidies to help bail out operators of a nuclear power plant in Senate President Steve Sweeney’s district.

Now federal regulators might undo their efforts.

NJSpotlight reports that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ruled that state subsidies of nuclear and renewable energy are “unjust and unreasonable,” which the site notes “could unravel a range of N.J. energy initiatives.”

Among these initiatives is a bill championed by Sweeney that would have ratepayers across the state pay PSEG an annual subsidy of as much as $300 million per year to help support it’s nuclear power plants. PSEG says it needs the subsidy to ensure the plants—which are making money—stay profitable, but the state law removed the state’s ratepayer advocate from the review process to determine if the subsidies are needed and how much the energy company gets.

In its decision, the FERC essentially sided with the operators of gas-powered plants, who argued the state ratepayer subsidies force down rates and unfairly penalize power providers who aren’t subsidized, according to the report.

The Murphy administration has said the state-imposed subsidies are part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s plans to combat climate change and promote clean energy sources. The state Board of Public Utilities has asked FERC to reconsider its decision, according to the NJSpotlight report.

Quote of the Day: “We had a tough week but I do want to say that we learned a lot this week.” — Radio host Judi Franco, returning to work after being suspended for comments about New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

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