Power Play: NJ, Electricity Suppliers Clash Over Construction of New Plants
State says proposed rules would block building of much-needed generating facilities.
The state is once again protesting rules, proposed by the regional operator of the nation’s largest power grid, that New Jersey officials say would make it harder to build new power plants here.
The state Board of Public Utilities argues that rules proposed by the PJM Interconnection would make it nearly impossible to spur construction of new power plants, which state officials see as a way to increase reliability of the power grid while lowering energy costs for consumers and businesses.
The filing, submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late last month, is the latest twist in an ongoing battle pitting New Jersey and Maryland against the federal agency and the PJM over the states’ efforts to foster construction of new power plants.
“The proposed revisions significantly reduce the state’s ability to ensure reliability within their borders while protecting incumbent generators from the state-sponsored new entry that New Jersey and other similarly situated states believe is necessary to ensure reliability,’’ according to the filing submitted to FERC.
New Jersey’s efforts to develop new power plants have been an increasingly contentious issue with PJM, FERC and incumbent power suppliers. In New Jersey, those efforts have resulted in a new law that guarantees ratepayers’ subsidies to back the construction of two new natural-gas power plants.
The Christie administration and lawmakers say the subsidies are needed to encourage construction of power plants in the state, which has some of the highest electric rates in the country. Since the state deregulated the energy industry, few new power plants have been built, with the only exceptions primarily being peaking plants, which come on line only a few times a year and tend to drive up power prices.
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