BPU unveils $20M energy-efficiency program

TRENTON – As a joint legislative committee on the environment convened a hearing today into Gov. Christie’s Energy Master Plan, a state agency launched a multimillion-dollar energy efficiency program.

The Board of Public Utilities announced a $20 million pilot program to combine heat and power distributive generation projects at the state’s largest commercial and industrial facilities.

The Clean Energy Program will provide incentives of up to $1 million to offset capital costs for installation of energy conservation measures in buildings.

“The Draft 2011 State Energy Master Plan identified energy efficiency as a priority in our efforts to reduce energy costs for all ratepayers, and improve the reliability of the regional grid,” BPU President Lee A. Solomon said in a release this morning.

Earlier this week, Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists had criticized the master plan – among other things – for not paying enough attention to energy conservation and efficiency.

 But in announcing the program, Solomon said, “This pilot program encourages the level of investment required to achieve significant energy savings for large energy users, while advancing the state’s goal of reducing energy consumption.

“Additionally, our Large Energy User Pilot Program will create and support high-paying jobs, just as our energy efficiency programs for residential users and local governments have.”

To be eligible for pilot program incentives, large energy users must demonstrate that their 2010 contributions to the Societal Benefit Charge (SBC), which is collected through the state’s utility bills, totaled at least $300,000. Only facilities with annual billed peak demand of 400 kW or greater, such as most hospitals, universities, manufacturing facilities and large office buildings, within their entire portfolio of buildings will be considered.

In addition to the Large Energy Users Pilot Program incentives, the N.J. Economic Development Authority’s Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund will provide low-interest financing for those participating in the program. The fund provides loans of between $250,000 and $2.5 million with interest rates of 2-4 percent based on the term of the loan.

Pilot program incentives will be based on 33 cents per kWh of electricity and $3.75 per Therm of natural gas saved annually from the energy efficiency project. The maximum available incentives equal the lesser of $1 million, 75 percent of the project cost or 90 percent of their 2010 Clean Energy Program contribution through the SBC.

Prospective participants must submit a pre-qualification application not later than Sept. 26. The BPU stated that following a review period, 25 applicants will be approved to submit a draft energy efficiency plan to reserve funding for their projects.

Complete details are available at NJCleanEnergy.com, including a pre-qualification application and information about upcoming webinar sessions where interested building managers can review requirements with program representatives.

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BPU unveils $20M energy-efficiency program