Clean energy funds being used as a ‘vehicle for taxation,’ Burzichelli says

Assemblyman John Burzichelli told BPU president Robert Hanna that if clean energy funds are being diverted year after year from their intended purpose to the general fund, then something should be done to get residents’ electric and gas bills reduced.

“We need to get these electric bills lowered,” he said.

He said some $196 million will be diverted in the coming fiscal year from the Clean Energy Fund. In the last four years, some $849 million has been diverted from clean energy funds, made possible by the Societal Benefits Charge that is on state consumers’ electric and gas bills.

He said if the funds are being used for that specific purpose, “Why do we continue to charge people.”

But Hanna said that this year, $379 million will be devoted to run “a full sweep” of clean energy programs.

The Board of Public Utilities president added “We do have additional aims, following Hurricane Sandy,” such as storm mitigation.

But Burzichelli said the funds “should not be used as a vehicle for taxation.”

“You got more money than you need apparently,” he said.

Societal benefits charges make up between 4 and 6 percent of a typical electric or gas bill.

For example, 4.8 percent of a typical JCP&L bill is used for societal benefits charges, and 5 percent for PSE&G.

“That is a considerable weight on these consumers,” the assemblyman said.

Hanna said that some of the money from those charges goes toward programs that help provide gas and electric service to low- and moderate-income residents.

Still, Burzichelli said, “We’ve got to get these bills down.”

Clean energy funds being used as a ‘vehicle for taxation,’ Burzichelli says