Home > Uncategorized > Christie BPU: $3 Per Year to Support Solar Power “Too High”

Christie BPU: $3 Per Year to Support Solar Power “Too High”

With virtually no credible factual support, NJ Governor Christie repeatedly has claimed that the alleged high cost of energy harms NJ’s economy and drives business locations to other states.

On that basis, Christie has structured his entire energy and environmental policies to promote the narrow goals of energy cost reduction and regulatory relief.

But PSEG reports that their NJ electric rates are BELOW the regional average (see chart on page 23); that they benefit from a favorable regulatory environment (chart on page 59) and are well positioned to succeed under numerous [regulatory] outcomes” (chart on page 13.)

Recently, some of Christie’s misleading claims and flawed premises have begun to be exposed as false.

But yesterday, we heard an even more bizarre fact free energy policy claim by the Christie Administration, this time about alleged subsidies to solar.

Ken Sheehan, Chief Counsel, NJ Board of Public Utilties, chats with lobbyist folowing Senate testimony

Ken Sheehan, Chief Counsel, NJ Board of Public Utilities, chats with lobbyist following Senate testimony

In testimony to the Senate Environment Committee (you can listen here), Ken Sheehan, Chief Counsel at the NJ Board of Public Utilities, announced the Administration’s concern that (this is a direct verbatim quote)

the level of subsidies to solar is too high

Chairman Smith then interjected and asked Sheehan how much the alleged excessive solar subsidies are.

Sheehan was unable to provide a factual response. It was an embarassing moment, and another new low in public policy.

It is simply incredible that a high public official could make such as sweeping claim on an issue of this significance and yet have no factual support for it. 

Smith then said that the cost to support solar energy amounted to $3 per household per year (that’s less than a penny a day). Sheehan did not object to or refute that claim by Smith.

Governor Christie apparently finds that too much.

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  1. Bill Neil
    June 21st, 2011 at 19:47 | #1

    Well, I’m shocked, just shocked at the cost of this solar subsidy, $3 per year. The Republicans are certainly right to be outraged at this instrusion, this heavy handed intervention into the purity of those “free markets.”

    Just kidding: in reality, they shouldn’t be, as any high school history student should be able to tell them by explaining what the Republican party position was – in favor of very broad based protective tariffs for most of the 19th century – and long past the point, into the Gilded Age and the 20th century – when our industries needed them. But let’s give them their due for the earlier part of the 19th century, when the policy did make more sense.

    Even fanatically free trade England, before the intense ideological period from the 1830’s on…which led to the overturning of the protectionist Corn Laws, nurtured their textile industry in the 18th century and earlier with protective tariffs…and actively intervened to wreck the capability of the word’s then leading textile producer of cotton: India. Free trade must have had some ironic ring to Indian ears during those free trading mid-19th century days.

    More recently, economist James Galbraith had to use similar sarcasm to address Repubican free-market positions – and reality, when he wrote “The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should too.(2008)

    Memo to national Republicans from Galbraith’s book: you can’t run a huge trade deficit like ours and not have either of these two consequences: either an equally large federal budget deficit, or a large private sector form of indebtedness. Which shall it be…because the history of the last three decades bears out that it’s one or the other…if you don’t believe Galbraith check with Martin Wolf over at the Financial Times (“Fixing Global Finance,” 2008). His name may be a little easier on the tongue for you than G-A-L-B-R-A-I-T-H’s.

  2. Bill Neil
    June 21st, 2011 at 20:19 | #2

    And Bill, I almost forgot: was it under Governor Whitman that Merrill Lynch got that office furniture tax break (or was it a lease deal?) to help that little Wall Street “start-up” get settled into a “welcoming” Hopewell, NJ site somewhere around 1999-2000? As I recall, the total state aid/breaks were in the tens of millions of dollars…and wasn’t the Mayor of Trenton, Doug Palmer, willing to extend his unused sewage treatment capacity to the Hopewell site to aid Merrill, making it one of the longest (and most expensive) proposed lines in state history, and even though the city couldn’t attract any much needed private sector “rateables” to come to Trenton…(of course the line never happened…) subsidy free free-markets indeed…

  3. Bill Wolfe
    June 22nd, 2011 at 09:35 | #3

    @Bill Neil

    Bill – superb and your typical penetration to the roots of the problem.

    Christie is the R model – disparage government, disable government, and then use the resulting dysfunction as the justification to dismantle government.

    RGGI is a perfect example of that.

    But retain those government functions that promote wealth creation, concentration and redistribution to corporations and the wealthy.

    Energy Master Plan policy changes are a perfect illustration of that: low income home weatherization, incentives for efficient refrigerators water heaters etc must be dismantled as too costsly.Insterad, public money must go to corproate office parkss and 350 MW industrial sites.

    In theory, that Neoliberal crap about free markets and withering away of the State are exposed: the State is stronger than ever – its just interveneing on behalf of the wealthy and powerfuil opligarch class.

  4. Bill Neil
    June 22nd, 2011 at 13:05 | #4

    Let’s set up a frame of reference for the Republican’s “non-interference” policy into those supposedly free markets, one heartily shared by Democratic “Centrists” like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and now, Barack Obama. The United States is now the world leader in the prison building system and mass incareration of citizens, especially poorer ones. Whether one thinks it is wise or just, set aside for a moment. It flowed right out of Richard Nixon’s vision of law and order, and someone as capable as historian Rick Perlstein said it fairly represented the nation’s mood.

    But it also involved a massive role for government; the prisons are the physcial end result, but there is a huge chain of state and local government participation at every step of the process: the police on the beat, the massive judicial and court civil service necessary to try and process millions…truly massive governmental intervention…and to monitor parolees upon release…(and a cynic might add: to deprive them of the right to vote even when they’ve paid their debts)

    Now shift and ask yourself: why the pull back in horror at that $3 dollar per year intervention on behalf of solar,struggling to get out of the gate and compete with the scaling up going on in China and Germany…What a contrast…one could well argue that this is another “self-protective” action by government to head off a looming catastrophe from climate change due to Global Warming…but even when folks like Van Jones were touting that it would be small business entrepreneurial driven…the Republican Right has fought like it was their Alamo…to the extent that they have to deny the scientific consensus…in several senses,the economic crises has given them the chance to claim they are defending the poor and middle class from higher prices…even at the cost of depriving them of a very good public works program…an energy efficiency CCC or WPA that would make up the costs in savings in the monthly bill…homeowner and businesses alike…what’s not to like about that…?

    The Right fears the implied and stated “social engineering” they see involved in a new energy revolution, something like the one that went on during the first industrial revolution. (And look at what FDR and the New Deal did with their drive for public power: brought lights and appliances to rural America,when the private sector thought they were not a good investment; terrible FDR, he gave the chance to be good consumers for the first time in their lives).

    But as Wisconsin and New Jersey and the Republican Congress are demonstrating, they are involved in another massive intervention and social engineering project of their own: attacking the public employee labor market and trying to tear it down and merge it with the already supplicant private labor market… just what the Doctor ordered for an economic world where there is not enough consumer demand to take the already built products off the market…!

    Bill: you are right: So let’s get over it; big economic changes usually if not always involve government intervention; the question is on whose behalf and to what ends…and I’ll be happy to defend the vision of a green collar economy to the auterity platform the Right is now adopting here and in Western Europe

    good luck to us all…

  1. July 8th, 2011 at 20:20 | #1
  2. July 12th, 2011 at 10:35 | #2
  3. February 19th, 2012 at 23:56 | #3
  4. January 13th, 2015 at 20:53 | #4
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