By Seth Grossman, Executive Director
(Originally Published As Letter to the Editor By PressofAtlanticCity.com on October 21, 2020.)
In 2006, a private company called Jersey-Atlantic Wind, LLC built five wind turbines on land owned by Atlantic County’s sewerage utility for $12.5 million. Fourteen years later, the public has no idea how much money was lost by the project, or how much our electric bills were raised to cover those losses. New Jersey’s BPU (Board of Public Utilities) was created in the 1930’s to protect consumers from being gouged by big utility companies. Today, the BPU is forcing utility companies to gouge consumers by forcing them to pay above market rates for “green energy” from companies like Jersey-Atlantic Wind, LLC that they often do not need and cannot use. The public also has no idea how much extra they were forced to pay for repairs and maintenance on these wind turbines. We also have no idea how much we will pay to safely dispose of them at the end of their useful lives within ten years from now.
While we were distracted, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities has been quietly processing two proposals to systematically raise electric bills as happened with tolls and gas taxes.
First, the BPU is preparing to extend its “temporary” $300 million per year rate increase for North Jersey’s PSG&E. We are told this is needed to continue operation of the Salem nuclear plant. However, most experts agree that nuclear plants in general and the Salem plant in particular are profitable. Why raise rates to bail out a profitable operation?
Second, the BPU is reviewing plans to take New Jersey out of the PJM. The PJM is a common electric grid jointly managed by New Jersey and 12 other states.
For years, the PJM gave lower prices and reliable electricity to everyone in the system. That is because it lets consumers and independent companies choose the least expensive and most reliable electricity producers in all 13 states. If New Jersey pulls out of the PJM, that competition will end. That would leave just two companies, PSE&G and Exelon, the parent of Atlantic City Electric, in control of most of the market. That lack of competition would almost certainly cause higher prices.
First, someone needs to pay for the expensive wind turbines at sea and solar panels on farms now being approved. These projects never pay for themselves. They save little, if any, fossil fuel. That is because they suddenly produce nothing when night comes, a cloud goes by, or the wind stops. Backup generators must constantly run and burn gas or oil so they can instantly power the grid when that happens. We do not yet have batteries big enough to do that.
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Seth Grossman, Executive Director