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Hearing Tomorrow, Clean Energy Program Cut in Half

Date : Tue, 11 Sep 2012 15:51:34 -0400

Hearing Details: September 7, 2012 Hearing on the New Jersey Clean Energy Program Budget Reduction Proposal First floor CSC (Multipurpose) Room

10:00 am to 2:00 pm

44 S. Clinton Street, Trenton NJ 08625

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Clean Energy Program Cut in Half The Board of Public Utilities is having a hearing on their budget for clean energy programs for the first six months of 2013 and the remainder of this year.The Clean Energy Program budgets from calendar year to calendar year while the Legislature works on a fiscal year.This BPU budget reflects the taking of $200 million in the FY2012 budget and $131.5 million in FY 2013 budget from the program to balance the budget.For the first six months of 2013 the total budget is $194 million, about half of what should be proposed.The original proposal was $651 million for fiscal year 2012.They have now extended the budget out six months to include the first six months of 2013.For the remainder of 2012 and beginning of 2013 the budget will be $391 million, basically cutting the program's funding in half.This money is used to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects around the state and cuts to the program will result in dirtier air and less clean energy projects and the green jobs they create. All the while we are subsidizing natural gas plants with around $2 billion and renewable energy and energy efficiency program funding are basically getting chopped in half.

"Governor Christie's budget raids of the clean energy funds have cost us. By stealing all the clean energy money to balance his budget the Governor has cut important programs. These programs would have helped the people of New Jersey save money on their electric bills, reduce pollution and create thousands of jobs. You cannot have a New Jersey comeback when you raid clean energy funds and hurt our economy," *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. * The energy efficiency funding for new programs is decreasing to $238 million from $409 million. In 2012 energy efficiency funding dropped from $331 million to $131 million. Renewable energy funding would fall from $59 million to $16 million. This would include solar and wind projects along with rebates for homeowners to purchase energy efficiency appliances.In addition Christie has taken $279 million from the Clean Energy Fund this year and $600 million total. The Administration is cutting clean energy programs that will not only benefit our environment, but help average citizens save on their electric bill. The $300 million they are taking away would have created more than 5,000 jobs, 100 million tons of air pollution over the next couple years and would create billions of dollars of economic activity.At a time when New Jersey needs job creation, losing this money will be especially detrimental.Diveritng this funding will not only impact the environment but the economy as well. They want to create a revolving fund for clean energy projects even though the public, industry, and the Energy Master Plan stakeholder group rejected this approach because it will not work.People are more inclined to participate in clean energy programs if they are offered a rebate rather than taking on low cost loans.When this program does not work they will be able to divert more money from the program to close budget gaps. Energy efficiency creates many jobs in weatherization and energy conservation for people's homes. It saves homeowners money on their heat and electric bills also limiting air pollution because there is less energy needed or heat being used. Energy Efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. Money for these programs go to seniors, people of limited income and the average family helping them save money on their budgets at a time when people are hurting financially. For every dollar spent by residential homeowners on energy efficiency we save $4 and for every dollars spent by businesses we save $16. It not only helps our wallets, but also creates thousands of jobs from weatherization of homes to energy audits. By Governor Christie stealing this money it is a hidden tax affecting homeowners and businesses.

"Energy efficiency is not only the best way to reduce greenhouse gases it creates more jobs and helps the average person save money on their electric and heating bills. These cuts are not only bad for our economy it is bad for our wallets. When people go to the store to buy new appliances instead of getting rebates they are giving money to the utility companies. By taking clean energy money it is a hidden tax on all of us especially businesses," said Tittel. "This is money that could be used to help them put in combined heat and power systems, renewable energy, or save on electricity bills. We are getting hit twice. Once because we pay the fee that is now being diverted and two because you will pay high energy cost with no money there for important projects." These funding cuts also include affect rebates, which everyday households and businesses when it comes to energy efficiency appliances. When people buy energy efficiency heaters, furnaces, or air conditioners they are able to get a third of the money back making these major appliances more cost effective. Without the rebates people are more inclined to by cheaper, less efficient appliances costing them more money in the long term and adding more pollution to the environment. People who buy energy efficiency heaters, refrigerators, or windows not only save themselves money but save us from black outs and brown outs during high energy days in the summer. This directly affects New Jersey companies not only heating and cooling, but businesses here like Trane which makes energy efficient appliances and furnaces. These businesses are headquartered in New Jersey directly hurting businesses and our economy.

"It's devastating. Everyone is getting cut drastically -- even EDA. The EDA funds clean energy projects under a joint program with the BPU. Its initial budget under the program amounted to $107 million, which has been trimmed to $81 million with carryover funding, but only $75 million is in new spending programs. This is a dirty deal that hurts clean energy," said Tittel. The Governor has raided the funds this year and in previous years. The Economic Development Authority (EDA) earlier this year took $55 million for combined heat and power to make up for the loss of RGGI money. Next year combined heat and power is to be cut in half, which directly helps businesses save on their energy bills. $52 million was already diverted in the FY2012- that is $107 million taken this year. Two years ago $400 million in clean energy monies was diverted from the Clean Energy Fund, the Retail Margin Fund, RGGI and other sources. The $500,000 going to the Global Warming Response Act fund is the last of the RGGI money. Governor Christies decision last year to pull New Jersey out of RGGI will cost us $65 million and about 1,800 jobs.

"While the Governor is taking this money away from renewable energy and energy efficiency he is subsidizing fossil fuels and power plants at the tune of $2 billion. This hurts ratepayers and consumers as well as our health and our environment," Jeff Tittel stated. All the Governor's attacks on clean energy programs and raids on the Clean Energy Fund are made even worse by the fact he is supporting and subsidizing fossil fuels. The Governor has pulled out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that was also providing money for clean energy programs. We are spending more than $1.6 billion subsidizing gas power plants and spending billions more for infrastructure subsidizing coal companies and fracking pipelines. All of these projects will have devastating impacts on our environment and will undermine New Jersey's clean energy economy. The Administration is not only subsidizing fossil fuels, but has been providing giveaways to special interests and corporations. Since the start of 2010 New Jersey gave out $1.57 billion in corporate tax subsidies to 70 companies through 4 programs, while New Jersey home owners have seen their property taxes go up by about a billion dollars in the past year. The biggest corporate giveaway is the Xanadu megamall, which has received $650 million in subsidies. This is especially troubling since the state cannot even fund Brownfield remediation projects to cleanup toxic sites around the state, however they are providing millions for another mall in New Jersey. Monies for cleaning up toxic sites and fixing our parks will create many more jobs than this corporate welfare. Independent studies show that these types of giveaways do not work and do no create new jobs with the record here in New Jersey showing that at a time when New Jersey residents are struggling with high property taxes and cuts being made to programs that will protect our environment and the public health we should not be giving handouts to corporations. The Governor's policies continue to take the side of the fossil fuel industry, corporate interests, and polluters over the environment, public health, and green jobs. The continuous raid on Clean Energy Fund and cutting of important environmental programs will have a detrimental impact on the future of New Jersey's environment and our economy. Governor Christie's policies are benefiting a select few, while the residents of New Jersey and our environment are paying the price.

"Clean energy has been a win win for New Jersey creating jobs, reducing pollution and saving money . The Governor has created a lose lose for all of us with more pollution, less jobs and a hidden tax," *Jeff Tittel said. "*This money comes from a small surcharge on resident's electric bill this money should go to helping them purchase energy efficient appliances and protecting our environment. The raiding of these funds will have real consequences on both the ratepayers and the environment."

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-09-11 12:51:34

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