NEW BRUNSWICK – New Jersey should set a goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from solar energy by 2025, urges a letter co-signed by a bipartisan group of 72 freeholders, state legislators, mayors and councilpersons.
“Last year, we were able to work in a bipartisan fashion with the governor to stabilize our solar energy credit market,” said New Jersey Senator Jim Whelan (D-2). “Now is the time to capitalize on that success and grow our solar industry, helping our environment and our economy.”
The 72 signers represent 40 towns in 17 counties, as well as 5 state legislative districts. The signers include both Republican and Democratic decision-makers, highlighting the bipartisan popularity solar energy has long enjoyed.
“By using solar energy to power our homes, businesses, schools, farms and government buildings, we can reduce pollution, save consumers on their energy bills, and boost local economies,” reads the letter, organized by the advocacy group Environment New Jersey.
“New Jersey has long been a leader in solar energy, thanks in large part to smart, forward-thinking policies,” said David Beavers, Campaign Organizer with Environment New Jersey. “This letter demonstrates that the political will to go big on solar is still very much alive in New Jersey.”
At January’s State of the State, Governor Christie cited New Jersey’s third-in-the-nation solar ranking. New Jersey trails only California and Arizona – two much larger and sunnier states – in the amount of solar installed. However, New Jersey has actually fallen from second place in the rankings since 2010, when Gov. Christie took office. Since taking office, the Governor has diverted more than $1 billion from ratepayer subsidies on electricity bills designed to fund clean energy programs, with more raids anticipated this year.
“Solar energy plays a vital role in New Jersey in securing our future and creating jobs in the Garden State” said Bergen County Freeholder Thomas Sullivan Jr. “In addition to helping curb our state’s carbon footprint, the solar energy industry creates well-paying careers for installing, maintaining, and utilizing this fast-growing field.”
New Jersey has the technical potential to generate six times the electricity its residents consume in an average year from solar power alone, according to a report released last fall by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. That same report found that going 20 percent solar would achieve carbon pollution reduction equivalent to taking 2.6 million gasoline-powered cars off the road in a year.
“New Jersey should continue to be a leader in clean energy. Generating 20 percent of our electricity from solar energy would not only solidify New Jersey’s role as a national leader in that category, it would also carry immediate benefits to our economy, our public health, and our environment,” said Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing. “I know our residents are very interested in preserving our environment and leaving the planet in better condition for generations to come. Solar energy is an exciting frontier that we are eager to continue to explore to achieve this goal.”
“New Jersey’s elected officials and civic leaders understand the benefits solar brings to our environment, our public health, and our economy,” said Beavers. “With such strong political will, New Jersey should continue to be a leader in solar energy by setting a goal of going 20 percent solar by 2025.”
Environment New Jersey is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization dedicated to a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, visit www.environmentnewjersey.org.