The Renewable Energy Task Force – created by New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey in January to make recommendations on promoting the use and development of Renewable Energy in New Jersey – presented its final report to the governor earlier this week.Trenton, New Jersey – May 2, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The Renewable Energy Task Force was charged specifically with strengthening the State’s Class I Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires all energy suppliers in New Jersey to obtain a percentage of their power from renewable resources, including solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, geothermal or tidal sources. “I would like to commend the members of the Renewable Energy Task Force for their substantive work in bringing forward these recommendations which will make New Jersey one of the nation’s leading clean-power states,” said McGreevey. “This administration remains committed to the creation of a clean, renewable power supply.” The Task Force recommended doubling of the current RPS requirement to four percent by 2008 and establishing a new long-term requirement that New Jersey get 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Task Force reported that further analysis of the data might prove that an even larger RPS requirement for 2008 might be feasible. In addition, the Task Force recommended the establishment of two voluntary customer programs: a sign-up program allowing retail electric customers to select an energy supplier providing even higher amounts of Renewable Energy than required by the RPS; and, a check-off option on utility bills that would allow customers to make financial contributions to the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, which promotes Renewable Energy through rebates and incentives. “Renewable Energy is clearly the energy of the future, and this Administration is committed to leading the way,” the Governor said. “The Task Force’s proposals will make the Garden State a continued leader in the development of clean renewable resources. I accept their recommendations and have asked the Board of Public Utilities to begin implementing them.” Whether or not any substantive actions are take, the Board appears to be in favor of reviewing the state’s Renewable Energy options. “The Board is committed to the Governor’s vision for a cleaner, healthier and more energy independent New Jersey,” said BPU President Jeanne M. Fox. “We will work with relevant stakeholders to review and implement the recommendations of the Task Force.” In its report, the Task Force elaborated on the many benefits to New Jersey from increasing the use of Renewable Energy, including: reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution; decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels, which can help reduce reliance on foreign energy sources; promoting economic development around Renewable Energy industries; and increasing security by relying on cleaner and more distributed sources of energy. The Task Force also suggested options for programs to specifically promote solar energy in New Jersey, citing its many benefits. The governor has asked the Board of Public Utilities to examine these options and develop the best programs to promote solar energy. The Renewable Energy Task Force consisted of 16 representatives from renewable and traditional energy suppliers, utilities, environmental and consumer groups, and energy experts. The governor initially announced the creation of the Task Force at his Energy Summit in December, during which he highlighted the need for the advancement of Renewable Energy in New Jersey.