PISCATAWAY – A bill sponsored by Senators Teresa Ruiz and Bob Gordon which authorizes the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to invest in energy cost savings programs for industrial and commercial energy consumers was signed into law today by Governor Corzine at a public bill signing ceremony at the Busch Cogeneration Facility at Rutgers University’s Busch campus.
“Clean, renewable energy and co-generation grants make New Jersey much more attractive to business investors and represent the future in environmentally-friendly energy production,” said Senator Ruiz, D-Essex and Union, and a member of the Senate Economic Growth Committee. “Particularly as we work to encourage businesses to locate to the Garden State, these programs will reduce our carbon footprint and lower energy costs for consumers across the board. I applaud the Governor for working with us to promote energy alternatives and for making New Jersey a national leader in low-impact energy production which will revitalize our economy and preserve our natural resources for future generations.”
“Economic stability and environmental sustainability can go hand-in-hand when you talk about the right kinds of projects,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen, and a member of the Senate Environment Committee. “This bill creates a new economic incentive for businesses to adopt energy savings programs which in the long run will lower their energy bills and preserve our State’s natural resources. I applaud Governor Corzine for taking a practical step in promoting energy efficient projects which will yield many benefits for the citizens of New Jersey.”
The bill, S-1932, authorizes the BPU to use revenue from the existing retail margin charge levied against large industrial or commercial energy consumers to fund grants for projects designed to lower energy usage and reduce energy cost by those consumers. Specifically, the grant program will apply to projects which promote combined heat and power co-generation, to tap the heat produced from electrical generation to offset other utility bills.
Currently, there is already over $100 million in the Retail Margin Fund, and the fund will continue to grow over time. Of the funding available, $60 million will be appropriated to provide grants to companies seeking to install or expand combined heat and power production. All grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, and grant amounts will vary based on the amount of energy generated per company.
The sponsors noted that even though grants will only be available for large-scale industrial projects, the benefits in reducing energy usage by these consumers will affect all energy customers in New Jersey.
“There are so many positive effects from reducing corporate energy usage that these grants just make sense,” said Senator Ruiz. “By making the most of current energy production – including harnessing heat from electric generators, maximizing energy efficiency and expanding how much energy is produced through renewable sources – we can achieve our State’s environmental goals, especially in how we deal with global warming. And by minimizing the amount of energy that corporate consumers draw from the grid, we can reduce energy demand, and that lowers energy rates for all consumers – from the largest factories to the smallest apartments.”
“We can reduce our State’s carbon footprint and save hard-hit energy consumers money,” added Senator Gordon. “This legislation shows that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive ideals in New Jersey, but rather, co-existing priorities. As we continue to compete with other states for new jobs and increased business investment, this new co-gen grant program will serve not only as a strong business-growth incentive, but also, as an incentive to be environmentally-conscious in our energy decisions.”
The bill received final legislative approval in the Assembly earlier in the month.