New Jersey has a promising future in energy efficiency, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The Washington-based organization that advocates for policies, technologies and investments that promote energy efficiency, ranked New Jersey 17th among all states and the District of Columbia in 2019 for its energy efficiency efforts, the same position as the prior year. The rankings are part of ACEEE’s 2020 State Energy-Efficiency Scorecard released today.
But while the state’s ranking was unchanged, the report recognizes that New Jersey marked a “critical milestone,” when state regulators established a framework of programs, including five-year targets for electric and gas savings that are among the highest in the nation. The framework includes provisions to ensure that low-income customers have equal access to energy efficiency programs.
That vision for a clean energy economy moved a step closer to reality when the centerpiece of PSE&G’s landmark Clean Energy Future proposal was approved in September by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The decision clears the way for the state’s largest utility to commit $1 billion toward energy efficiency investments over the next three years, the largest commitment ever in New Jersey.
Progress in New Jersey came as some states and legislators redirected resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, a shift that slowed momentum on energy-saving policies, according to the report.
“In spite of these challenges, several states celebrated some very promising policy achievements this year, laying the foundations to greatly scale up efficiency programs and slash emissions,” according to the report. “These states included Virginia and New Jersey, which have joined 25 other states that have adopted a robust energy efficiency resource standard for their utility power sectors.”
Energy efficiency policies and programs adopted this year will begin to deliver actual electric and gas savings for New Jersey in 2021 when the transition from state-led to utility led programs begins. Dramatic improvement will be realized beginning in 2022 based on the statewide implementation of energy efficiency programs offered by PSE&G and the other utilities.
“We’re about to embark on a historic transformation of New Jersey’s energy economy that is expected to deliver environmental benefits, lower customer bills, create jobs and boost the state’s economy,” said Karen Reif, vice president for PSE&G Renewables & Energy Solutions. “ACEEE has recognized this bright future and we look forward to helping New Jersey become a national clean energy leader.”
PSE&G’s program offers residential, commercial and industrial customers rebates and other financial incentives to purchase energy-efficient lighting, HVAC equipment and smart thermostats. Customers also are eligible for free or affordable energy audits and energy efficiency kits. The program was designed with special emphasis on meeting the needs of low-income, multi-family and small business customers.