New Jersey is a major distribution center for petroleum products to the northeastern United States.
New Jersey is home to beaches, marshes, highlands, and major suburbs and port facilities serving the neighboring Philadelphia and New York City metropolitan areas. The climate is temperate but variable. Weather in coastal areas is moderated by the ocean. Weather inland is influenced by urbanization and, in the north, by the Appalachian Mountains.
New Jersey has the highest population density of any state in the nation. Many New Jersey residents commute to work in the New York City or Philadelphia metropolitan areas, and the state has some of the nation’s longest commute times. Shipping complexes along the Delaware River and in the New York-New Jersey harbor-with their connecting pipeline, rail, and air terminals-make New Jersey a major distribution center for petroleum products for the Northeast.
New Jersey is a major consumer of petroleum products, and the petroleum-dependent transportation sector consumes more energy than any other sector in the state.7New Jersey depends on nuclear power and natural gas for most of its net electricity generation. The state’s industrial sector energy consumption is below the national median despite its energy-intensive chemical manufacturing and petroleum refining industries. Overall, New Jersey ranks in the lowest one-fifth of states in energy consumed per dollar of gross domestic product.
In 2015, solar power supplied two-thirds of New Jersey’s net renewable electricity generation.
Renewable energy supplies less than 5% of New Jersey’s net electricity generation. Solar power became the state’s leading renewable energy source in 2015, supplying two-thirds of net renewable electricity generation. Previously, biomass-principally municipal solid waste and landfill gas-had been the largest renewable power provider, and, in 2015, biomass facilities supplied nearly all the rest of the state’s net renewable electricity generation.
New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was initiated in 1999 as part of electricity regulatory restructuring.Since 1999, the state legislature has enacted several substantial revisions to the RPS, including adding specific minimum requirements for solar energy and for offshore wind energy. Overall, the law currently requires nearly one-fourth of the electricity sold in New Jersey after 2021 to come from qualified renewable sources. Requirements for additional solar power continue to increase until 2027.
The New Jersey legislature accelerated the RPS solar requirements in 2012. By February 2016, more than 43,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities were installed around the state on residential and business rooftops, with solar capacity totaling nearly 1,267 megawatts from distributed generation and 377 megawatts from utility-scale generation. In 2015, about three-fifths of all net solar electricity generation in New Jersey came from distributed facilities. Commercial solar PV farms also have been built, and the state’s two largest farms each have capacities of 19.9 megawatts. At the end of 2015, New Jersey was fourth among the states in installed solar PV capacity.
Only a small fraction of New Jersey’s renewable electricity is generated by wind, at two facilities located on the Atlantic Ocean coast. New Jersey’s best wind power potential is found offshore along its coastline, and New Jersey was the first state to establish a specific requirement for offshore wind, mandating 1,100 megawatts by 2021. Offshore wind projects proposed for state and federal waters off the New Jersey coast are still in the planning stages
In 2015, for the first time, natural gas supplied more of New Jersey’s net electricity generation than nuclear power. Between them, the two fuels supplied more than nine-tenths of the power generated in the state. Through 2014, nuclear power typically supplied about half of New Jersey’s net electricity generation. The state has three nuclear power plants, including the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States. Oyster Creek came online in 1969 and is scheduled to be shut permanently in 2019. However, new generation is primarily natural-gas fired, and some coal-fired plants have been converted to natural gas, increasing natural gas-fired electricity generation by nearly half between 2011 and 2015. Coal and renewables provide less than one-tenth of in-state electricity generation.
Electricity consumption in New Jersey is declining, and the state obtains just under one-tenth of its power from generators in other states. The commercial sector uses half of all electricity consumed in the state, and the residential sector consumes two-fifths. Only one in nine New Jersey households use electricity as their primary heat source. New Jersey’s average electricity prices are typically among the 10 highest of the 50 states. The state restructured its power industry in 1999 and allows customers to choose retail electricity suppliers. About one in six customers has opted for non-utility suppliers.
In New Jersey, natural gas is used primarily by the electric power and residential sectors. About three-fourths of households in the state use natural gas for home heating. New Jersey’s natural gas has traditionally come from the Gulf of Mexico region. The state is crossed by five major interstate pipelines that are primary carriers of natural gas from the Gulf region into New York and New England, and about three-fifths of the natural gas entering New Jersey travels on to other states.New pipeline sections are being proposed and built to transport more natural gas from Pennsylvania’s nearby Marcellus Shale into the Northeast, and distribution infrastructure within the state is being upgraded. In 2015, new infrastructure enabled the opening of two new electricity generating plants fueled with natural gas in the state.
New Jersey has no proved natural gas reserves and does not have any natural gas production. Controversy over hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale in neighboring states has spilled over to New Jersey because of shared concern about protecting the quality of Delaware River Basin drinking water. Although no drilling has been proposed in the state, New Jersey banned hydraulic fracturing for the year 2012, and the legislature has passed bills barring disposal of drilling wastes.
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