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Economics Professor Analyzes NJ Clean Energy Options for Garden State Initiative and USA Today Network  

A photo of Danielle Zanzalari, Ph. D.Danielle Zanzalari, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Economics and Legal Studies at the Stillman School of Business  is a respected media commentator and go-to source for reporters covering New Jersey policy issues relating to the local economy as well as the impact of regulations on the banking sector.

Recent issues she has addressed have included making investing more accessible to the middle-class,  the multi-billion dollar subsidization of the biggest semiconductor manufacturer in the world, and NJ's death taxes.

Zanzalari '10 has made her way back to her alma mater, Seton Hall University, from the University of North Texas Dallas where she was also an Assistant Professor of Economics. Previously she worked as the Vice President of Credit and Portfolio Risk at Citigroup and as a Financial Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She helped design the econometric evaluation guidelines for bank stress testing while at the Fed and also helped oversee model development for Citigroup. 

The podcast host of Not Made of Money, on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, she is a personal financial writer and a contributor to The Balance personal finance website, generating more than 100M site views regularly. She has a consulting business called Talk Money to Me, that produces personal finance content including lesson plans for middle and high schools around the country as well as personal finance content. 

In addition, she is a regular contributor to the Garden State Initiative, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that describes itself as "dedicated to strengthening New Jersey by providing an alternative voice and commonsense policy solutions in the state — solutions that promote new investment, the growth of businesses, the creation of economic opportunities, and innovation to the benefit of all New Jerseyans." 

Zanzalari recently analyzed the state’s energy policy for the Garden State Initiative. Her report, "More Bang for Our Buck: Revisiting the Garden State’s Clean Energy Subsidies," proposes alternatives to the state’s current plan to protect the environment while addressing financial considerations. Her analysis also appeared as an op-ed in and the USA Today Network in NJ Clean Energy Options Must Be Revisited.

More Bang for Our Buck looked at a recent poll from Pew Research that indicates a majority of American adults (69%) want the U.S. to become carbon neutral by 2050, and prioritize developing alternative energy sources. The report discusses New Jersey’s 2019 Energy Master Plan, calling for the state to lead the nation in clean energy by becoming dependent on 50% clean energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050

Zanzalari asked policymakers, how New Jersey will get there and at what costs to New Jersey’s ratepayers and taxpayers, discussing the need to balance energy economics with politics when deciding how to allocate tax dollars towards the state’s green future. Zanzalari explains how nuclear energy is one of the cleanest energy sources and most reliable, yet more investment is going to alternative energies like solar and wind in NJ. She looks at wave energy in her analysis.

Zanzalari explains:

Approximately 19% of all electricity in the U.S. is generated from nuclear sources, despite only 54 nuclear power plants existing in the U.S.  Interestingly, New Jersey is currently in the top 10 of states in producing nuclear energy.  Expanding this industry, we could become a net exporter of nuclear energy — similar to France, which gets 70% of its energy from nuclear energy and gains $3 billion per year in exporting energy to other countries.  New Jersey could generate a new state export — energy — if we increase our capacity in nuclear.

Zanzalari said: 

While diversification of energy is important from an energy security perspective and wind energy is cheaper than nuclear and many other clean energy sources, the State Legislature and Governor should wait to see whether its current investment provides enough benefits to outweigh the costs before increasing wind subsidies.

She wrote: 

However, in order to meet the goal of 100% clean energy by 2050, New Jersey Governor and Legislature need to align energy subsidization with economics. This involves supporting clean energy projects, like nuclear, in the same way we have supported recent wind investments and shifting current subsidies for solar energy to more reliable energy sources.

Discussing the benefits of investing in start-up wave energy companies, she explained: 

Investing in new energy companies, like those developing clean electricity from ocean waves, could provide clean energy without environmental impact on marine and ocean floor life caused by wind energy. The New Jersey coast makes wave energy a promising potential clean energy investment for New Jersey. Moreover, the potential award for investing early in wave energy (such as an equity stake) may outweigh the costs of early investments in the technology.

Making her final points, Zanzalari said: 

If New Jersey continues to subsidize clean energy, the State Legislature and Governor must focus on energy sources that provide our state with more bang (energy) for our buck (tax dollars).

To review or download the report, visit here.

To read the USA Today Network opinion piece, visit NJ Clean Energy Options Must Be Revisited

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