Monmouth County Senator wants transition to electric heating more affordable for residents
New Jersey is in year 2 of a 30-year plan laid out by Governor Phil Murphy to reach 100-percent clean energy in the state by 2050 and while some may argue the cases for and against this plan, one separate red flag is now flying over this plan, from both sides of the political aisle in Trenton.
A concern for Monmouth County State Senator Vin Gopal (D-11), among others, is that this seamless transition would impact most New Jersey residents, in their bank accounts and subsequently on their state taxes.
"I appreciate the Governors leadership on this issue on transitioning but where I disagree with him is that...we need to get to 100-percent clean energy, but to say that we need to only do that by electric, while laudable, I think that it makes it really hard," Gopal tells Townsquare Media News. "We have a situation where this could potentially cost residents anywhere from 7, 10, 15 and I've seen studies up to $20,000."
Senator Gopal is set to introduce legislation that would ensure the Department of Energy and the Department of Community Affairs is not allowed to make any rules that would require electric heating be the only or primary means of heating a residence or commercial building.
"So, let's together get to 100-percent clean energy, let's do it in a responsible timeline but let's not do it where we're creating an unaffordable mandate on homeowners," Gopal said. "That's especially going to disproportionately affect the lower income families, middle and working families throughout New Jersey."
Residents would be able to have more time and options with assistance from this legislation on opting in or out of electric heating in the interim.
"It simply says that (there are) more pathways we can create to get to 100-percent clean energy, just not doing electric," Gopal said. "It (the legislation) allows more financial relief for residents. It would allow residents multiple options, not just one."
The belief in the plan itself is there, to help make New Jersey cleaner by shifting to other forms of energy and heating homes, etc., but for most residents already battling sky high taxes from the state, being able to afford this and be mandated to do so by the state, presents a lot of financial challenges.
Gopal hopes to ease the potential financial burdens of residents and businesses through his legislation.
"If we're going to mandate that you need to go 100-percent clean energy through only electric means, that's going to be extremely expensive on the state, extremely expensive," Gopal said. "We can get the same result and the same affect of getting to 100-percent (clean) energy by using other venues of getting there, not just electric."