Trenton – At tonight’s NJ Transit board meeting, NJ Transit President Kevin Corbett announced NJ will promote a clean, renewable energy option incorporating solar and battery storage to power the proposed Transitgrid microgrid, and “reimagine” a project that was previously focused on a fracked gas power plant.
The project, which was opposed by a broad coalition through EmpowerNJ and the Don’t Gas the Meadowlands coalition, as well as 16 Hudson and Bergen County towns and cities that passed resolutions opposing the project, as well as Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.
The initial proposal was to install a 140 MW fracked gas power plant on the banks of Hackensack River in Kearny, as part of a more than $500 million project that would provide electricity to NJ Transit’s Morris and Essex lines and Hudson Bergen Light Rail in case of power outage, with funding based on a $410 million grant in federal Hurricane Sandy resiliency funds.
NJ Transit has now reversed course and put forward a proposed $3 million stipend program that would proposals from bidders about creating a Transitgrid project powered by renewable sources of energy like solar and battery storage. The Board will vote this evening to authorize this program and create stakeholder engagement process, including a request for qualification (RFQ) by this November and request for proposal (RFP) process that will conclude by December 2021 and then a selection of a final bidder by Dec. 2022.
Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey’s director, issued the following statement:
“NJ Transit is getting this decision right – a clean, renewable energy resiliency project can provide a national template on how to get resiliency right and move away from a fracked gas power plant that would have belched out climate and air pollutants. This is a win for clean air and our climate.
This is a huge moment for the thousands of citizens, legislator leaders and elected officials that have written, testified, rallied and kayaked calling on NJ Transit to move towards a renewable option and called for using the most current analysis of the capacity for renewable options.
This has the potential to be the largest solar/energy storage micro-grid project in the country and be a national example of embracing clean, renewable goals as part of resiliency work for public transit. This is the future we need to prepare for --- more extreme weather events and more power outages – by embracing clean, renewable energy solutions.
This is a step towards the clean, renewable future and double down on innovation to ensure that resiliency plans by NJ Transit don’t expand the fossil fuel footprint and emissions in our state. Constructing this project with clean, renewable energy rather than natural gas will prevent more than 570,000 additional tons of climate pollutants, harmful particulate matter and ground level ozone. This decision should ensure that NJ Transit is putting climate and clean air first for this project.”
Environment New Jersey is a state-wide environmental advocacy organization, representing more than 20,000 dues-paying citizen members and more than 60,000 e-mail activists. The organization is based in both New Brunswick and Trenton. www.environmentnewjersey.org