In a move hailed by environmentalists, Public Service Enterprise Group said Friday it is exploring the sale of all its fossil fuel operations in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Maryland, while retaining its nuclear power operations.
“A separation of the non-nuclear assets would reduce overall business risk and earnings volatility, improve our credit profile, and enhance an already compelling ... position driven by pending clean energy investments, methane reduction, and zero-carbon generation,” Ralph Izzo, PSEG’s president, said in a statement.
He said the move to shed PSEG’s fossil fuel interests is being driven by investors and will allow the company to focus more on its regulated utility business, primarily in New Jersey.
PSEG is a publicly traded company with four subsidiaries. Friday’s announcement pertains only to subsidiary PSEG Power. It does not impact PSE&G, which is New Jersey’s largest publicly owned utility and is regulated by the state’s Board of Public Utilities.
PSEG Power currently generates 6,750 megawatts from its fossil fuel operations, mostly consisting of natural gas plants, except for one remaining coal-fired plant in Bridgeport, Conn., which it had already planned to retire next year. Though PSEG plans to sell the plants, that doesn’t mean they still won’t be burning the same amount of fossil fuels under a different owner.
The company would also sell off its 467-megawatt Solar Source Portfolio located across various states.
However, Izzo said during a conference call with investors that the company isn’t getting out of renewables. Rather, he said the solar projects were spread too thin across 14 states. Instead, Izzo said PSEG wants to focus its portfolio more on the Mid-Atlantic states, particularly with offshore wind.
PSEG Power owns and operates Hope Creek nuclear power generating plant in Lower Alloways Creek Township, in Salem County, N.J. It also has ownership in Salem nuclear power generating plant, and Peach Bottom in York County, which is operated by Exelon.
New Jersey plans to build a 200-acre “wind port” next to the Hope Creek plant on property that’s owned by PSEG. The wind port will provide staging, assembly, and manufacturing activities related to offshore wind projects along the East Coast, not just New Jersey, which has a plan to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050.
PSEG said it is looking to invest in offshore wind and expects to make a decision regarding the opportunity to invest in Ørsted’s Ocean Wind project later this year. Ørsted has been approved by New Jersey to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City, and the state plans more projects.
PSEG said it is also evaluating whether to participate in other offshore wind solicitations in New Jersey and other Mid-Atlantic states.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, called PSEG’s announcement “a big deal,” saying it shows the company is changing its business model, away from greenhouse gases.