To ensure underserved communities have equitable access to clean energy, the Senate today passed bill, sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton and Ronald Rice, that would establish a clean energy office on the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) .
“Clean energy is an issue that has a positive impact on both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “All New Jersey residents, regardless of income, should have access to clean energy and its many benefits, including utility savings and career opportunities. The Office of Clean Energy Equity will ensure that clean energy programs for low-income families are fair, accessible, and affordable, and it fits perfectly with our efforts to implement environmental justice reforms here in New Jersey. “
Bill S-2484 seeks to establish the Office of Clean Energy Equity, which is tasked with overseeing the fair distribution of clean energy and sustainability programs and providing technology, employment, and infrastructure to congested communities involved in these projects are connected .
“Traditionally, major clean energy programs have only been accessible to the wealthier. If we are to transform the state economy into a green energy economy, it is imperative that we make sure that low and middle income New Jersey residents also benefit, ”said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “The provision of vocational training and employment opportunities will be vital in helping disadvantaged communities that have suffered most from years of pollution and neglect.”
Under the bill, the office would set up community solar and energy efficiency programs that would benefit 250,000 low-income households by 2030 by reducing the overall proportion of families who spend on energy. The office would have to create at least 1,600 megawatt hours of energy storage in congested communities in the same period. Energy storage in the vicinity of the energy generation site is of crucial importance for the introduction of wind and solar energy on a large scale.
To ensure that low-income households have equal opportunities to find meaningful careers, 2,500 people from overburdened communities must be trained in clean energy by 2025.
“It is more important than ever to create avenues to long-term, well-paying and accessible jobs,” continued Senator Singleton. “Promoting clean energy investments through smart policies is a modern, community-based solution to the growing employment crisis. It is also a way of bringing environmental and economic justice to those communities that bear the greatest environmental stress. “
The bill was dismissed from the Senate with 28-10 votes.
David Gahl, SEIA’s Senior Director, Northeast Affairs, issued the following statement on the bill:
“For too long, lower-income communities and color communities have not fully experienced the benefits of clean, affordable electricity in New Jersey. The Clean Energy Equity Act sets government goals for serving lower-income customers and empowers the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to create solar programs for these customers. A significantly expanded community solar program envisaged in the bill will be an important tool in providing access to clean energy across New Jersey. This legislation is key to building a more robust system of equitable clean energy programs across the state. “
“We thank Senator Singleton for his guidance and urge the State Assembly to take the measure and send it to Governor Murphy for signature by the end of the year.”
Message from Senator Troy Singleton’s office