New Jersey’s clean energy technology economy, while on the cusp of a boom, is viewed as lagging other states and needs of input from businesses to figure out how to change that perception, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the state Board of Public Utilities.
On Friday, the agencies said they want to hear from the private sector as to why New Jersey doesn’t have the same reputation as other states, whether any impediments to cleantech development exist, the scope of the sector in the state and how to quicken its pace of growth.
The agencies put out a “request for information” from business executives to determine why New Jersey is viewed as having to catch up with other states, and what changes could be put in place.
“New Jersey currently ranks among the top states in the nation in deployment of clean energy resources and other clean solutions,” reads the RFI. “However, in the field of cleantech innovation, there is a perception that NJ lags a number of our peer states. It seems that these peer states have been more effective at nurturing a cleantech ecosystem, increasing the development of new technologies as well as attracting supply chain activities and jobs.”
Friday’s bid comes as the Murphy administration looks to ramp up the state’s transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, a move they argue is vital to stymie the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and subsequent effects from climate change.
In November, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he would be doubling the goals for how much offshore wind energy will be able to generate, from 3,500 to 7,500 megawatts, by 2035. The first bid was awarded to Ørsted in June for the development of 1,100 MW off the coast of Atlantic City.
“Expanding our cleantech ecosystem is critical to stimulating equitable, sustainable growth that benefits all New Jerseyans,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said in a prepared Friday statement.
“The insights we’ll gain through this RFI will help us continue to demonstrate how New Jersey is an environmental and clean energy leader and will allow us to develop an even stronger portfolio of programs to support and inspire growth in the cleantech sector,” BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said Friday in a statement.
The two agencies handle different aspects of the clean energy, with the BPU handling the regulations for utility and energy companies, and the EDA handling many of the economic incentives geared towards attracting such businesses.
The EDA is overseeing a program to help assist businesses in learning wind industry standards, including professional credentials, to qualify for the right types of contracts, and provide the specific services the industry needs.
In August, Murphy signed an executive order establishing the Wind Innovation and New Development Institute to create and handle the plan for education, research and job-training in the industry.
This article was updated at 6:05 p.m. EST on Jan. 24, 2020 to more accurately characterize the concern over the state’s cleantech efforts as one of perception rather than reality.