New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Bill to Power Fusion Energy Development with Scholarship Program Clears Committee

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Senator Joe Pennacchio’s legislation to attract top-level graduate students and researchers to the fields of fusion energy and plasma physics was approved by the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio’s bill supports the development of clean, renewable power in New Jersey with scholarships for graduate students and researchers studying fusion energy and plasma physics. (SenateNJ.com)

“Fusion is an exciting renewable energy option with limitless potential,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “This bill will support the development of researchers and scientists to advance the innovations necessary to realize the promise of fusion as a safe, economical, and sustainable energy source for our long-term energy needs.”

The bill (S-296) would direct the state’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to administer a scholarship program for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in New Jersey who are studying or conducting research in plasma physics and fusion energy science.

“The successful development of fusion energy would herald a new era of economic and scientific development worldwide,” Pennacchio said. “As the home of the Princeton Physics Lab and an a growing network of new companies committed to making fusion power a reality, New Jersey is positioned to play a crucial role in this development. This bill will ensure the most talented and promising scholars can pursue educational and career opportunities to advance new developments in fusion.”

Ten scholarships would be awarded annually for $12,500, and Pennacchio’s bill requires universities to match the awards, providing each student with $25,000 in aid.

This measure is part of a bipartisan package of legislation sponsored by Pennacchio to make New Jersey a global leader of fusion energy research and the development of commercial technology to bring fusion power to market.

The package includes:

  • (S-295) Includes fusion within the definition of Class I renewable energy as defined in the “Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act.” Other Class I renewable energies include energy produced from solar technologies, wind energy, etc. Enacted in 1999, the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act fundamentally changed the way residential and commercial consumers of electricity pay for their services. It separates the cost of generating and supplying power from the cost of delivering it. Under this bill, consumers would be able to purchase fusion energy when it becomes available.
  • (S-297) Provides that fusion energy and fusion technology companies are eligible to receive benefits under certain economic incentive programs. Under the bill, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) is required to adopt rules and regulations for the administration of economic incentive programs to provide that any reference or stipulation under a program related to the development or production of renewable energy, the development of emerging technologies, or to the expansion of targeted industries in this State connected to the award of a benefit or incentive to a company is deemed to include the development or production of fusion energy or fusion technology in this State.
  • (S-298) Requires the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), in consultation with the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology, to establish a Fusion Technology Industry Development Program to promote the fusion technology industry in the State and to attract fusion technology businesses to the State. Requires the EDA to provide technical and financial assistance to fusion technology businesses considering locating in New Jersey and to invest moneys from business assistance programs administered by the EDA, as may be available.
  • (S-299) Establishes the NJ Fusion Technology Industry Commission. The commission is to consist of the following nine members: the Secretary of Higher Education; the chair of the Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology; the Executive Director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; two members from NJ colleges and four public members with a background in fusion. The bill requires the commission to be responsible for the development and oversight of policies and programs in fusion energy and technology development in New Jersey and report annually to the Governor and Legislature.
  • (SR-14) Urges Congress to increase funding for fusion energy research. Europe, South Korea, and Japan are still setting goals and milestones for fusion and the United States needs to remain competitive in developing this technology.

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