Coalition renews call to pass Clean Energy Equity Act to ensure equitable energy future
Trenton, NJ — The NJ Shines campaign applauds New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) President Joseph Fiordaliso’s announcement yesterday that BPU will create an Office of Clean Energy Equity. The Office will “be responsible for overseeing the equitable deployment of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency programs in New Jersey’s LMI communities, as well as serving as a liaison to those communities.”
The NJ Shines campaign, composed of over 15 social and environmental justice organizations, has been advocating for an office of clean energy equity as part of the NJ Clean Energy Equity Act. This bill is part of a comprehensive plan to reduce the energy burden of New Jersey’s low-income and environmental justice communities.
“Establishing the Office of Clean Energy Equity is a critical first step in ensuring that New Jersey’s low-income and environmental justice communities are seen and heard in the new clean energy economy,” said Pari Kasotia, Mid-Atlantic Director at Vote Solar. “Particularly in this time of economic reinvention it is critical that we rebuild better, and fully consult those who are harmed by and excluded from the dirty energy economy.”
“BPU President Fiordaliso is to be commended for his leadership in establishing the Office of Energy Equity within the BPU,” Scott Weiner, former President, NJBPU and former Commissioner NJDEPE. “This Office will be a vital resource to ensure that energy equity is infused in every activity touched by the BPU and that all New Jerseyians have equal access to clean energy and the benefits of the emerging 21st century energy system.”
In addition to legislatively creating an Office of Clean Energy Equity, the NJ Clean Energy Equity Act would also:
- Deploy onsite solar or community solar and energy efficiency to reduce the energy burden of 250,000 low-income households or 35% of low-income households, whichever is larger by 2030.
- Deploy 400 megawatts of storage in overburdened communities by 2030.
- Develop solar or clean energy curriculum and paid workforce-training programs that provide solar training to at least 2,500 individuals from overburdened communities by 2025.
- Ensure all new construction in environmental justice communities is solar ready.
These provisions would be funded by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The bill directs 10% of BPU’s annual clean energy program budget, or $50 million annually, whichever is greater, be set aside to undertake the activities listed above.
“By writing this office into law, we will ensure that New Jersey stays committed to providing affordable clean energy to low-income families for years to come,” said Stan Greschner, Chief Policy Officer with GRID Alternatives. “Moreover, New Jersey needs to back this office by including an equity budget, allocating at least $50 million a year to address financial and programmatic barriers to solar adoption faced by low-income and overburdened communities, to achieve the bold and visionary objectives of the Office.”
The Clean Energy Equity Act (S.2484, A.4185) is sponsored by Senator Singleton (District 7) and Senator Rice (District 28) in the state Senate and Assemblypeople Benson (District 14), Reynolds-Jackson (District 15), and Pinkin (District 18) in the state Assembly.
The NJ Shines campaign includes 15 New Jersey environmental, justice, and solar organizations, including the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (NJEJA) and NAACP New Jersey State Conference.
Additional members of the campaign contributed these statements of support:
“EEA-NJ applauds the BPU for establishing an Office of Clean Energy Equity,” Erin Cosgrove, Policy Counsel for the Energy Efficiency Alliance. “The state can finally begin dismantling the systemic barriers that have historically prevented low-income and other overburdened communities from enjoying the benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy. We look forward to the major economic and public health benefits New Jersey will achieve in a more equitable energy landscape.”
“For too long, the benefits from energy efficiency and renewable energy have gone to suburban and wealthy communities instead of overburdened and low- and moderate-income areas. Solar panels, weatherization, and high-efficiency appliances have not made it to the communities that need them the most. This is made worse because of the $1.6 billion in raids from the Clean Energy Fund. The BPU by opening the Office of Clean Energy Equity, is making sure these communities see the benefits from energy efficiency, renewable energy, community solar, and wind,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This program will help overburdened and low- and moderate-income areas save money on electric and heating bills and reduce pollution while providing good, green jobs.”
“For too long, the benefits of a clean energy transition have escaped the reach of low and moderate income families. That is why we are encouraged by the BPU’s decision to establish the office of Clean Energy Equity and look forward to working with state officials to ensure that all New Jersey families have access to clean energy programs. Every New Jersey low and moderate income family should have access to the benefits of a clean energy future and today’s announcement is a critical step toward that goal,” said Luis Nasvytis Torres, Senior Legislative Representative, Earthjustice.
“Given the health, climate, economic and racial challenges we face today, it’s great BPU is setting up an Office of Energy Equity. Ensuring economic benefits and pollution reductions get to overly burdened communities is justice and its funding is essential,” said Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Action’s environmental justice organizer.
“The NJBPU announcement yesterday to codify the Office of Clean Energy Equity to ensure energy efficiency programs are provided equitably across the state, and especially in our cities, is incredibly welcome,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Renewables and energy efficiency can be a triple win for our cities and low-to-moderate income residents, but only if we are adequately funding our renewable and energy efficiency programs. Our cities and communities of color have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and we need to make sure we’re prioritizing them and clean energy during our recovery process.”