First step to banning gas stoves? NJ utility board OK’s Murphy energy plan
💡 The vote by BPU commissioners was unanimous
💡 BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said no one is coming for gas stoves
💡 He urged opponents to stop spreading misinformation
New Jersey took another step towards meeting green energy goals set by Gov. Phil Murphy with a vote by the Board of Public Utilities approving a plan for utilities to incentivize buildings to switch from natural gas to electric.
The vote, however, was criticized by Republican lawmakers who described it as the first step in banning gas stoves, an idea that thas been picking up traction around the country.
“The Murphy administration doesn’t seem to care that people don’t want to replace their gas stoves or undertake expensive conversions to electric furnaces and water heaters,” state Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Bucco, said in a statement. “The BPU’s action today demonstrates that they’re willing to start implementing electrification plans no matter how unpopular they are, regardless of the cost, and without legislative oversight.”
State Sen. Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, said the vote is the first step towards banning gas appliances.
"It’s one of several simultaneous tracks being advanced by the Murphy administration to further the implementation on his extreme Energy Master Plan," Schepisi's office said in a written statement. "The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is also considering changing building codes to prohibit new natural gas hookups and to require replacement appliances in existing buildings to be fully electric."
NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said the plan will ultimately reduce energy use and lower emissions of greenhouse gases, and advance the governor’s goal of electrifying hundreds of thousands of New Jersey homes and businesses by 2030.
Fiordaliso said the program is not mandatory but is about giving consumers choices and creating a more affordable and sustainable future.
The decarbonization measures approved during a special meeting Wednesday will maximize energy efficiency and energy conservation in buildings while also reducing emissions from the building sector, in line with the state’s new clean energy and electrification goals, officials said.
The programs include goals for buildings to install heat pumps instead of natural gas cooling and heating equipment.
🔵 Dennis Malloy: I'm signing this petition to save gas stoves
The unanimous vote approving the plan also came with a finger-wagging from Fiordaliso, who accused opponents of spreading misinformation about how ratepayers will be affected.
"With these new incentives, we are encouraging folks to move to energy efficiency options. Notice I said encouraging folks. But let's be clear. We are not requiring. We are not mandating anyone to give up their gas stove. If that were the case I'd be thrown out of my own house," Fiordaliso said.
The BPU president said there has been a lot of misinformation and fearmongering about what the program means that he wants to see end.
"We are not coming for your gas stove or your local pizza shop's oven. We are not forcing anyone to do anything in any way. I cannot emphasize more that we are not mandating anything. So, enough of the misinformation out there. Enough. Those who tell you otherwise are wrong and spreading lies," Fiordaliso said.
He said opponents to the plan should stop coming up with ways to deceive the public and instead have a meaningful dialogue about the impacts of climate change.
Firodaliso encouraged anyone who has questions about the program should call the BPU.
"One thing we don't do here at the BPU is we don't lie. We will tell you straight truth. So let's stop the misinformation because quite frankly I'm sick of it," Firodaliso said.
BPU Commissioner Mary-Anna Holden added that gas hot water heaters are safe as well.
Opponents still wary of plan
NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor in a statement said the approval shifts the cost of an ineffective building electrification policy onto the backs of ratepayers. While efforts to lower carbon emissions are laudable, Cantor said he had several concerns including the lack of generation systems that can support a massive building electrification policy.
“It is irresponsible for the state to move ahead with new sources of demand and hope that the grid and generation capacities will be there. An energy failure means that our lives stop, people’s health and wellbeing are at risk, and businesses cease operation," Cantor said. "We are already seeing the potential for brownouts and blackouts from existing demands, as we saw from the PJM warning this past winter."