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Confirmation of BPU President Raises Concerns over Clean Energy Cuts

Date : Mon, 22 Feb 2010 15:44:24 -0500

  For Immediate Release
February 22, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

Confirmation of BPU President Raises Concerns over Clean Energy Cuts Sierra Club Statement on New BPU President Lee Solomon

Today Lee Solomon will be confirmed as the next President of the Board of Public Utilities. The Sierra Club is concerned that at this morning's hearing, he sidestepped important questions regarding cuts to the Clean Energy Program.

As the head of the BPU, Solomon will have jurisdiction over the Clean Energy Program, which Governor Chris Christie has proposed cutting by $158 million. We're concerned cuts to the Clean Energy Fund will eliminate this important program, undermining the environment, clean energy and jobs. These cuts will directly affect 4,000 private sector jobs and indirectly affect up to 20,000 jobs statewide.

"We're glad the BPU has a new president, however, we're deeply troubled by where the Clean Energy Program is headed in Christie Administration," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "New Jersey has one of the most successful clean energy programs in the nation and we're concerned that it will be dismantled through budget cuts and other actions by this Administration."

As a legislator, Soloman had a good environmental record but does not have a strong background in energy policy.

We believe that the Christie Administration has exceeded its authority in an effort to cut important programs. These programs are established by law and cannot be raided by the Governor. Any cuts to these programs should be approved by the Legislature.

Monies from the Clean Energy Fund are matched by the residents and businesses of New Jersey, who use the funds to implement renewable energy like wind and solar. Most of the money the Administration is trying to divert from the Clean Energy Fund is already allocated for existing programs or is to be used to reimburse people and businesses who used their own money install energy efficient appliances, renewable energy, or combined heat and power systems that will help lower their energy costs.

Governor Christie is also proposing to eliminate $18 million from the Clean Energy Fund State Capital. This is money used to install renewable energy or improve efficiency at governmental buildings. This short term savings will mean a long term loss because of the additional energy costs required for those buildings.

The proposed $128 million in cuts to the Retail Margin Fund will also set back the environment and the economy. The Retail Margin Fund helps businesses and commercial users to install renewable energy equipment on their facilities and build cogeneration and combined heat and power sources. This fund provides financial assistance to companies that build power plants, heat buildings, and produce electricity from clean natural gas or renewable energy sources.

Through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the Federal Government provided New Jersey with $167 million for its Clean Energy Fund. The cuts announced by Christie may result in a loss of those federal stimulus dollars provided under the Recovery Act because we'll be violating our agreement with the Federal Government. This will cost the state tens of million of dollars that we need to create jobs and promote clean energy.

Robbing the Clean Energy Fund will only make the economic situation in New Jersey worse. The Clean Energy Fund provides jobs and helps residents save money on utility bills. The money saved goes back in to the economy. Renewable energy makes us more energy independent and helps the environment by lowering greenhouse gases. The Clean Energy Fund also helps business, because savings on energy costs means more businesses staying here in New Jersey.

Last month, Governor Christie signed eight Executive Orders, four of which pose a serious threat to environmental protections and may jeopardize federal stimulus funding. These Executive Orders, including one that imposes a 90 day freeze on environmental regulations, give government officials the authority to roll back rules and regulations that protect our air and water and prevent sprawl.

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2010-02-22 12:44:24

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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