#b#Is Solar Really So Expensive?#/b#

As a long time supporter of renewable energy to reduce the pollution of our living space on this earth. I was delighted to read about the new Andlinger Center for Energy Research at Princeton University (U.S. 1, May 11). I also heartily agree that improved thermal efficiency is extremely necessary, both in the way we use energy and the way we construct our buildings.

However. I take exception to the statement in bold letters “Currently, solar energy is 5-10 times more expensive than gas or nuclear power.” This erroneous statement reinforces the efforts of the boards of local residential communities who discourage, or outright prohibit installation of solar panels on homes in their communities.

Just this Friday, May 13, the Financial Times had a lengthy article about many large industrial groups signing long-term contracts for delivery of renewable energy from wind and solar, claiming substantial long-term savings. The article includes a listing of true energy costs (without considering any subsidies) from various sources. The average cost of solar is 50 percent higher than average of coal and 95 percent higher (not 500 percent) than average of natural gas. Wind power is substantially cheaper than natural gas.

Bill Biega

Ethan Allen Drive, Monroe

#b#Photo Credit#/b#

The credit for the photographs of Princeton’s Andlinger Center that appeared in the May 11 issue was not provided. The photos on pages 1, 28, and 30, were taken by David Kelly Crow and were provided to U.S. 1 by Princeton University.

#b#Zwicker: Halt PennEast Pipeline#/b#

The overwhelming bi-state opposition to the proposed PennEast Pipeline is rooted in facts presented by experts who, after careful consideration, concluded that the project would have no public benefit. I implore the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to give this data similar scrutiny.

The pipeline proposal represents a lack of respect for the rule of law, utter disregard for New Jersey’s natural resources and an assault on the ownership of private property. Considering the fundamental right of individual landowners to retain their properties and the fundamental responsibility of the state to protect our waterways, wildlife and open space, it would be irresponsible to move forward with this project.

New Jersey residents know there is no mulligan when it comes to our environment. We have a collective duty, therefore, to move forward with renewable energy, not backward by building more fossil fuel infrastructure. I will continue to work on bipartisan efforts toward innovative, job-creating, clean energy solutions that prioritize the wellness of both people and our planet.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker

Zwicker, a Democrat who represents parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties, issued the statement above on May 10. The PennEast Pipeline, a proposed $1.2 billion, 114-mile gas pipeline, would traverse Hunterdon and Mercer counties in New Jersey. A petition denouncing the pipeline route, which would cross waterways, wetlands and parks, has elicited 9,000 signatures from concerned New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents. See story on Zwicker’s May 24 appearance on Green Hour Radio at right.

#b#Cut Taxes on Retirees#/b#

Secure retirement is out of reach for many New Jersey residents and income taxes on retirement benefits makes this problem worse. We should not be penalizing people for planning for a financial secure retirement! AARP believes these taxes should be cut. Now is the time to call your State Senator/Assembly member and Governor Christie and tell them to support Assembly bill number 3339/Senate Bill number 998 to cut income taxes on retirement income.

These bills increase the exemption for retirement income taxes including pension income and “annuity, endowment or life insurance, contract, or payments of any such amounts which are received as pension, disability, or retirement benefits, under any public or private plan.”

Others would have us cut the estate tax and inheritance tax which might be due for some moderate reform, but the truth is that far, far more New Jerseyans will be helped if Assembly bill number 3339/Senate Bill number 998 became law.

Douglas Johnston

AARP New Jersey, Princeton

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