Good morning. Today I'm happy to release the state's draft Energy Master Plan 2011 which has two essential elements to it. First and foremost, it is a pathway to more affordable energy for the people of the state of New Jersey and secondly it lays out a vision for greener more renewable energy as we move forward in a plan that is realistic and achievable not pie in the sky meant to pander to any particular constituency. This plan which has been put together through the efforts of a lot of people, those folks represented by the President of the Board of Public Utilities Lee Solomon and the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection Bob Martin puts an emphasis on the long-term need for development of renewable sources of energy, cleaner instate generation for renewables and other sources are an important part of this plan. The plan provides relief to New Jerseyans who already pay the fourth-highest rates in the nation for energy. We're not losing sight of the need to develop renewable energy technology such as fuel cells, offshore wind, and alternative fuel vehicles along with our continued commitment obviously to solar energy. We need to be dealing with these challenges in two ways in our view, both a short-term approach and a long-term approach. We need to put forward a plan which I believe we're doing today that maps out a strategy that realistically does both.
First reducing rates and making them comparable to costs elsewhere in the region and across the country are important steps in facilitating economic growth, job growth in the private sector while reducing the cost of living for residents in New Jersey. I want to commend President Solomon for being an outspoken advocate for lowering electric rates here in New Jersey and doing the things that are necessary in order to achieve that. New Jersey as you know also needs to have a long-term plan to develop alternative sources of energy, safeguarding our air, our water, and our land resources and also continuing our focus on energy as industry as a way to continue to develop new jobs in new industries in the renewable energy area. Technological advances are important and our commitment today to wind and solar and also our commitment to no new coal in the state of New Jersey will put us on a realistic path to achievable targets for renewable energy growth. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to move away from temporary short-term jobs to create permanent long-term jobs in the state.
I'll talk about a few things. First, on the short-term, it's expanding electricity generation to improve reliability and to lower costs consistent with protecting the environment and growing the economy. The steps that we've taken, some in conjunction with the Legislature, to expand natural gas fired electricity generation here in the state, is a battle that we're continuing to have and that we're going to continue to have because New Jersey needs to have its own sources of reliable instate energy generation to deal with not only the issues of economic sustainability but also to deal with price and have more of that under our control.
Second, we're creating a realistic path to achieve a renewable energy portfolio standard of 22 ½% by 2021. This is a realistic and achievable number not a pie in the sky number, not a fantasy number but one that we absolutely believe and have a plan that we're laid out to be able to accomplish that by 2021. We expand implementation of commercial and industrial solar projects and really shift our focus on solar to commercial and industrial large scale use in order to be able to help lower the cost of energy generation for businesses across the state and to make these types of projects more sustainable and more reliable for our entire state. We also in this plan promote the development of large solar generation projects on brownfield sites and landfills. These are currently sites that are laying fallow, they are assets, resources that are not being used, turning these brownfield sites and landfills into large solar generation projects will help to add solar energy to our grid, also will help to use resources in New Jersey, natural resources that right now are not being used at all. We'll promote the development of solar to assist local governments in reducing their energy costs as well. That's a portion of this plan and we're maintaining support for offshore wind by codifying the statutory requirements of the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act; this provides a framework for setting offshore wind renewable energy certificate pricing and for approving applications to facilitate the financing of offshore wind projects. I really do believe that New Jersey is going to be the first in the water with an offshore wind project that is creating and adding to our energy portfolio and I know that President Solomon and Commissioner Martin are working hard together to get us to that point, and I believe we will be the first ones to do it.
Lastly in terms of renewable energy and dealing with our environmental issues, as I announced last week, in conjunction with our withdrawal from RGGI, we will say no to any type of new coal fired generation in New Jersey. Also the best energy conservation projects are going to be pursued now here in New Jersey. It was stunning to me when we went to Honeywell to announce that they were staying inside the state and expanding their footprint here in New Jersey I had an opportunity to meet that time again with Dave Cote the CEO of Honeywell. The products that Honeywell and other companies like Honeywell have available now for us to be able to do a much better job of conserving energy are really stunning. It's been a failure I believe of the state not to avail ourselves of those type of very aggressive energy conservation technologies. Part of the Energy Master Plan says the state has to lead by example. We will begin to lead by example by retrofitting state buildings and this building to meet higher efficiency standards. As I said last week during the press conference regarding RGGI that when you're trying to protect the environment the best energy is the energy you don't use. If we can start conserving more energy this will not only be helpful for our economy but also will be helpful for the environmental challenges that we face as we move forward in the future. Nuclear must also be a part of this program as we move forward. New Jersey currently has approximately 53% of its electricity generated by nuclear power. With our commitment to protect our environment by closing Oyster Creek by 2019 we are going to need all types of instate resources--- renewables, gas fired generation, and nuclear to fill in that gap and deal with what we absolutely believe will be an expanding economy and as a result a need for additional energy generation inside the state. Nuclear must be a part of that portfolio as well.
All of those things combined I believe will lead us to a future here in New Jersey where we have lower cost energy but also are leading the way on renewable energy and the development of a very large renewable energy portfolio as we go ahead. With the solar industry, with our moves on offshore wind, and with our continued commitment to nuclear and with the more friendly environmental impact of gas fired plants as opposed to the coal fired plants that exist in many other places across the country. We believe that this is a plan that is both realistic and forward looking and one that will address the real concerns of the people of the state of New Jersey to have less expensive available energy to be able to take care of their homes and their businesses and also to be able to move towards a greener more environmentally friendly state with renewable energy being developed that will help to play a continuing larger role in supporting the energy needs of the people of the state of New Jersey.
On the State Energy Savings Initiative Oversight Committee as I talked briefly about last week, that will be overseen not only by the two gentlemen on either side of me but also by the State Treasurer and work has begun already on that issue and you will see us being willing to make a significant investment in retrofitting state buildings and making a short-term investment for a long-term gain in energy conservation. So I want to commend again Commissioner Martin and President Solomon and their staffs and all of the folks in the Governor's Office who have worked so hard on the Energy Master Plan. It is something that's important to New Jersey's economic and environmental future and is of concern to everybody in this state. We've taken a lot of time to go through this because we wanted to put forward a document that was responsible and achievable. You can make all kinds of promises in this business but we try to make the ones we actually believe we can get done and we believe that we can accomplish the things that we've laid out in this plan and look forward to its implementation over the course of the remainder of the administration. So once again thank you to Bob and to Lee and to others who helped so much in this, Trish Caliguire, Bob Marshall from inside the Governor's Office, who helped to lead the effort from inside our office on this I want to thank both of them for their extraordinary hard work and for making sure that as each step of this process went along the way they were continuing to keep me briefed so that the steps we're taking here could be consistent with the overarching philosophy of this administration and what we're trying to do for economic development and job growth in our state.