Volume 7/Issue 8

  • Phil Murphy Announces Energy Policy Initiative
  • Senate Environment Committee Moves VW Settlement Funds Legislation
  • Speaker Prieto Unveils School Funding Plan

Phil Murphy Announces Energy Policy Initiative

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy recently announced an ambitious energy policy proposal to set New Jersey on a path to be 100 percent reliant on clean energy by 2050.  He vowed to begin the creation of a new energy master plan for the state within his first 100 days in office.

The plan includes:

  • Rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as one of his first acts in office. 
  • Setting an ambitious offshore wind target– 3,500MW of offshore wind generation by 2030, designed to power 1.5 million homes. 
  • Prioritizing solar energy expansion with an emphasis on regaining the state’s status as a national leader in solar energy production and job creation. 
  • Establishing community solar to ensure that everyone can take advantage of clean energy, regardless of where they live.
  • Setting New Jersey as a leader in clean energy storage, with a goal of 600 MW of energy storage by 2021 and 2000 MW of storage deployed by 2030.
  • Increasing funding and providing market incentives for energy efficiency.

Senate Environment Committee Moves VW Settlement Funds Legislation

Legislation sponsored by Committee Chairman Bob Smith to direct how the Volkswagen Settlement funds are to be used by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was recently approved by the Senate Environment Committee.

VW has entered into a $14.7 billion settlement with the EPA for Clean Air Act Violations. The settlement requires VW to establish a $2.7 billion mitigation trust fund, with New Jersey potentially receiving $65.3 million of those funds.

New Jersey must submit a plan to the mitigation trust fund trustee for approval; the state would then have ten years to spend the funds as approved.

The Smith legislation, S3029, would dedicate funds to programs designed to decrease diesel emissions at the Newark, Elizabeth, and South Jersey Port District ports.

S3029 also directs 15 percent of the VW settlement funds to pay for costs directly connected to the acquisition, installation, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure for charging or filling stations for zero emission vehicles that are cars or light duty trucks.

The bill awaits consideration by the Senate Budget Committee. 

Speaker Prieto Unveils School Funding Plan

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto unveiled a one-year school funding proposal that would provide $125 million in aid to school districts based on the following provisions: 

  • Any district with at least a 10 percent enrollment growth in the past five years would be eligible for supplemental funding;
  • Schools suffering the most under the state's current special education funding formula would receive extra state aid;
  • The state would single out districts in dire financial straits, including Paterson Public Schools, for more funding;
  • The Department of Education would launch a program - similar to the Department of Community Affairs' transitional aid - to temporarily help school districts with financial problems

Prieto’s plan would put the Assembly at odds with Senate President Steve Sweeney’s school funding proposal, with a key difference being that the Assembly measure would not cut aid to any district, while the Senate measure incrementally decreases aid to overfunded districts. 

Both the Senate President and Governor Christie have criticized the Speaker’s plan.