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New Jersey Energy Plan Based on ‘Magical Thinking’

(The Center Square) – As state and federal policies offer greater subsidies for renewable energy such as wind and solar, skeptics warn that money is being wasted and undermining the stability of the U.S. energy system.

Mark Mills, director of the National Center for Energy Analytics and a fellow at Northwestern University’s engineering school, argued in a new report that New Jersey’s approach to energy policy is based on false hopes that ignore the realities of energy production.

In a report published by the Garden State Initiative, Mills argued that all seven of New Jersey’s energy policies are flawed and based on the “erroneous assumption” that leaders must change New Jersey’s energy infrastructure to rely on renewable sources.

“The problem is not electricity; The problem is that hydrocarbons are used for everything,” Mills said. “Despite vigorous exploration, there is no large-scale substitution of hydrocarbons in the foreseeable future.”

“Governor Murphy’s mandate that New Jersey reach 100% clean energy by 2035 is a laudable but unrealistic goal,” said Audrey Lane, chair of the Garden State Initiative. “The bottom line is that the targets set out in the NJ (Master Energy Plan) are purely aspirational, and our report makes this meticulously clear.”

GSI estimates the cost of the energy plan at $40 billion, but it would not provide jobs or economic growth.

In the report, Mills argues that increasing energy efficiency and the development of solar and wind energy do not lead to a reduction in energy consumption, but to an increase in energy demand.

While New Jersey wants to reach 100% clean energy by 2035, it says decarbonization efforts have minimal impact on emissions levels and run counter to other goals, such as expanding manufacturing sectors.

“It is impossible for all of New Jersey to stop using hydrocarbons,” Mills said. “The real problem is always scale.”

When government officials reshape their energy policies by introducing renewable energy mandates or electric vehicle subsidies, he argued that the assumptions behind these ideas are based on “magical thinking.” Innovations that find new energy sources, he said, cannot be subject to legislation.

“Governments pass stupid laws all the time,” Mills said. “The future, like it or not, in the next 20 years will look similar to the last 20 years – because big systems don’t run fast.”

He argued that wind and solar power will “probably double” or triple in the future, but coal, oil and natural gas will remain the majority sources of American energy.

“The central concept of the ‘energy transition,’ which is novel and historically unprecedented, is the idea that state and federal policies can now bring about wholesale replacement of most of society’s primary energy sources and do so without economic and social consequences,” Mills wrote.

New Jersey is not alone in its efforts, either. Pennsylvania and other states spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually to expand the solar industry. Critics warn that the change could threaten the reliability of the power grid as intermittent sources replace on-demand energy sources.

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