New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: Significant Breakthrough Increases Urgency to Pass NJ Fusion Legislation

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Senator Joe Pennacchio today heralded news of a significant development in fusion energy, announced this morning by the United States Department of Energy.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio heralded news of a significant development in fusion energy announced this morning by the U.S. Department of Energy and renewed calls for the Legislature to act on his package of fusion energy bills. (Pixabay)

“This may be one of the most significant scientific achievements of this century,” said Pennacchio (R-26), a staunch advocate for fusion support and research in New Jersey.

“We are moving closer to the realization of zero-carbon, sustainable power for homes, industry, and more,” continued Pennacchio. “This is proof of concept. It works! It’s no longer just a hypothesis on a white board.

“If we want New Jersey to be a leader when fusion comes to fruition, now is the time to act,” said the Senator, the sponsor of a bundle of legislation introduced in September 2019 to help position the state at the forefront of fusion development.

“Investment in private sector research has never been higher and interest will surely increase dramatically after today’s announcement. The implications are massive, and the race is on. New cannot wait to capitalize on this opportunity. We are allowing other states to get ahead of us.”

The breakthrough is the culmination of decades of research by the scientific community, and the excitement generated will only increase the scramble to capitalize on fusion energy’s limitless potential in the future.

“For 60 years, fusion’s promise was an exciting theory, the Holy Grail that could one day replace carbon-based energy production,” Pennacchio said. “That potential has taken a huge step toward reality with confirmation that scientists working on an experiment with lasers at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved fusion ignition for the first time ever, producing a net energy gain.”

Pennacchio has been the leading advocate for New Jersey’s fusion interest since hosting a symposium on the fusion’s exciting potential in 2019. Energy experts from national laboratories, businesses, and research organizations in fusion energy and technology shared their insight into what could be the most significant energy development in history.

Pennacchio’s bills include:

  • S-2992: Would establish the New Jersey Fusion Technology Industry Commission to focus on the development of the promising clean energy in the state. The bill was approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee in November.
  • S-217: 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-218: To attract top-level scientists to the field, Pennacchio’s bill requires New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to administer a scholarship program for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers studying or conducting research in fusion energy and plasma physics. The bill cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee in June of this year.
  • S-219: 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. The Senate passed the bill with a vote of 39-0 on June 29.
  • S-220: 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.

Pennacchio also sponsored a resolution urging Congress to increase funding for fusion energy research. SR-14 passed the Senate in June 2020 and was filed with the Secretary of State.

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