The bill states that the nuclear power plants in New Jersey are necessary to meet the Energy Master Plan of New Jersey's goal of 100 percent clean energy generation by 2050 and the GLobal Warming Response Act's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The bill also states that "the retirement of nuclear power generation will inevitably result in an immediate increase in air emissions within New Jersey due to increased reliance on natural gas-fired generation and coal fired generation." Nuclear power plants currently generate 40 percent of the electricity needs of New Jersey.
Nuclear power plants that wish to participate in the program will have to be certified by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. In order to be eligible to be granted the ZECs, the board must determine that the nuclear power plant meets the objectives of the act. The ZECs are stated as being similar to compensation given to other non-emitting energy generation resources, which includes solar, wind, hydropower, and tidal power.
Costs for the ZECs will be recovered through a $0.004 per kilowatt-hour tariff that will be applied to retail distribution customers of the public utilities. The bill is expected [fiscal estimate, PDF] to increase the state revenue by up to $20 million per year.
A lawsuit was filed [JURIST report] in February 2017 against a similar ZEC bill that was passed in Illinois. The Connecticut House of Representatives passed [JURIST report] a similar bill in October. New York also enacted [Press release] a ZEC standard in August 2016.