Gov. Phil Murphy pitched his New Jersey clean energy goals to dozens of researchers and professors at Princeton University on Friday, pointing to the potential economic benefit of boosting such an industry.
Murphy’s appearance marked an effort to ramp up the state’s clean energy industry and build support for its proposals. The industry would entail the widespread use of offshore wind and community solar programs and more controversially, nuclear energy.
The governor said he wants New Jersey to be able to produce 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and be 100 percent reliable on clean and renewable energy by 2050.
And his economic master plan, laid out Oct. 1, calls for an offshore wind institute that would research wind-based technologies and provide industry technical training — a point Murphy highlighted again Friday.
“We are committed to not just making New Jersey a state that runs on clean energy, but the place where vital research and development, and even the manufacturing of component parts, happens,” he said.
Murphy suggested Princeton’s vast experience with innovation and R&D would combine well with his plans to boost the state’s startup and innovation economy, especially as it relates to the clean energy industry.
“We want to make New Jersey the home base for any innovation company in the energy sector,” Murphy said, pointing to the proposed incubator-rent subsidy program and $500 million Innovation Evergreen Fund that would be used to fund life sciences, financial technology, digital media and cybersecurity startups looking to set up in the state.
But the governor’s clean energy goals drew the skepticism of environmental activists, several of whom staged a small protest outside. They urged Murphy to hit the brakes on nearly a dozen proposed gas-powered electric plants and natural gas pipelines to demonstrate his commitment to a clean-energy economy.
Jeff Tittel, head of the environmental advocacy group New Jersey Sierra Club, suggested Murphy’s talk of a clean-energy economy would be nothing more than “hot air” if he did not take action against those projects.
Murphy said while he “respects what they’re doing,” New Jersey is the state moving the fastest toward its clean-energy goals.
“I hope their colleagues in Oklahoma and Texas and other places that want to drill offshore for oil and gas, I also hope that they’re standing loud and clear in those states, because I know where we are in New Jersey,” Murphy told reporters.