Local governments like yours have a new tool to help you reduce energy costs, save taxpayer dollars and contribute to the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a new local government energy audit program created by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and the New Jersey Clean Energy Program.
Mayors, town managers and other officials have been telling us for some time about the special challenges they face when it comes to instituting energy efficiency measures. They know that municipal buildings, public works headquarters, police departments, schools and other facilities don’t always use energy most efficiently, and they understand that new lighting and lighting controls, HVAC equipment, windows and other upgrades could mean substantially lower heating and electricity costs.
Unfortunately, limited capital budgets often mean local governments have little upfront money and finding qualified energy audit firms while adhering to complex procurement rules can be a major challenge.
New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program was designed by the Municipal/Local Government Audit Program to provide a custom-fit solution for your local government. The new program offers an incentive for municipalities, school districts, sewer authorities and similar entities like yours to do comprehensive energy audits and then complete the necessary upgrades that can put your community on the road to lower energy costs.
Launch of this new program comes at a time when energy and being “green” are on everyone’s minds. How wisely electricity is generated, transmitted to New Jersey customers, and used by customers plays an essential role in reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. For that reason, New Jersey’s developing draft Energy Master Plan (EMP) will set forth an overall vision for energy planning for New Jersey through 2020. The BPU has been a key player in this energy planning—we have provided significant effort in terms of staff support and expertise to the Office of Governor Jon S. Corzine. I chair the EMP Committee of state agencies that work together in support of the Governor on this initiative.
Energy Master Plan The EMP vision incorporates the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into a larger effort to ensure that New Jersey has a reliable and affordable supply of energy consistent with our environmental needs. Part of that vision involves setting specific energy efficiency goals. The Governor’s goal is to reduce by 20 percent the projected growth in our energy use by 2020. On the electricity side, that translates into 20,000 gigawatt hours of electricity that we need to save each year. In other words, we will have to save each year until 2020 the same amount of electricity our highly successful Clean Energy program has helped New Jersey save in the last six years.
We can achieve this goal—but we need you. It’s a win-win situation: save energy, save money, save the planet.
We expect to get the MLGA program up and running fully this spring. Your town or local government entity will be able to select among six energy audit firms that have been pre-qualified by the State Department of Treasury. If you participate in the program, you negotiate your own project fees independently with the energy audit firm you choose from the list. The Treasury certification assures you that your energy audit will be comprehensive and systematic so that your taxpayers don’t miss out on a single opportunity to save money and energy.
The Energy Audit All facilities included in the audit will have to be rated according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager Tool, which rates energy performance. The certified energy audit will include such data as the size of the facility or facilities being analyzed, the history of their energy use, and inventories of the equipment used within the building(s)—including lighting, HVAC, copy machines and computers. Your auditor must also assess and report on opportunities that exist in the facility or facilities for the installation of renewable energy measures, such as solar, wind, geothermal or biomass.
Highland Park is among many New Jersey municipalities that have energy efficiency and renewables. Selected as the NJ BPU’s “2006 New Jersey Clean Energy Leader,” the borough retrofitted its public buildings, focusing on photovoltaic; installed high efficiency lighting, heating and cooling systems; and has geothermal systems in its schools.
Starting out, you determine the scope of the work to be done in your community. You may wish to have one building audited, or several. But experts from the Clean Energy Program will be available to guide you through the process of writing a Request for Proposal, determining and describing the scope of work to be performed and seeking quotes.
Now here’s the really good news: The audit could end up costing your community nothing. Audits completed according to the program requirements, first of all, are eligible to receive rebates of up to 75 percent of the cost of the audit. After that, if your local government goes on to actually implement recommendations from the energy audit and the work exceeds 25 percent of the cost of the audit, then you can qualify for an additional rebate of that 25 percent. In effect, your energy audit would be free. And upgrades in lighting, installing timers and motion sensing devices, more energy efficient copiers or hvac systems—all of these can translate into lower energy use and lower or more stable energy costs.
Further Grants But the help does not end there: Local governments who participate in the MLGA program can go on to apply for grants and incentives through two additional programs, one established and one new this year. Smart Start—a Clean Energy Program—offers technical assistance and rebates for facility and equipment renovations and upgrades. The 2008 New Jersey Clean Energy program also includes $400,000 to fund grants in the range of $5,000 to $15,000 to community-based organizations for outreach and education.
Find out more about:
• The Municipal/Local Government Audit program, Smart Start and more at www.njcleanenergy.com.
• The New Jersey BPU at www.nj.gov/bpu.
• The Energy Master Plan at www.nj.gov/emp.