While Gov. Chris Christie named a new head for the state Board of Public Utilities, he is maintaining his position on the BPU proposal to build three new gas-fed power plants in the state.
“I’m very committed to that program,” Christie said of the Long-Term Capacity Agreement pilot program, or LCAPP, at the press conference today, in which he announced Robert Hanna will replace Lee Solomon as agency president.
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Christie said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision that at least temporarily blocked the plan was wrong, and that both he and legislative leaders continue to support expanding in-state electrical generation.
Solomon cited the plan to add generation to the state as his greatest accomplishment, while acknowledging that work remains to be done to allow the plants to be built. Solomon said he believes conditions are in place for the state to be successful in its plans to complete the plants, though he didn’t detail those conditions.
Christie is nominating Solomon to return to being a judge on Camden County Superior Court. Solomon said he only took on the BPU job because Christie asked him, but that he had always seen being a judge as his goal. Christie said he would consider Solomon as a nominee to the state Supreme Court.
Hanna declined to add to Christie’s comments on LCAPP, though he did express interest in following up on power companies’ response to the recent snowstorm in New Jersey, noting that his own house in Madison was out of power for 48 hours. He credited the municipal utility with its work after the storm, adding that a JCP&L line that fed into the town’s utilities was cut off.
“I’m looking forward to looking into all of the issues in response” to dealing with the snowstorm, Hanna said.
Christie credited Solomon with several accomplishments, including working on energy master plan revisions, advancing clean energy initiatives, and promoting alternative power initiatives.
“He has been an extraordinarily effective BPU president,” Christie said of Solomon.
Hanna worked for Christie in the U.S. attorney’s office and currently serves as the director of the state Division of Law.
Christie described Hanna as a truth teller who “gives me the right answer.”