Plan to ease rules on energy-saving projects advances in N.J.

An Assembly panel has advanced legislation to revise the law that allows New Jersey to make energy improvements without large upfront expenses.

The bill permits state agencies, local governments, and school districts to enter into contracts for energy projects that are considered the most advantageous proposal without having to be the lowest bid. Subcontractors would be required to pay their workers at least the minimum wage.

Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula says private companies will do the work and get paid from the energy savings the projects produce.

“Unlike the other programs where you need to have ratepayer subsidization, here we have this program that is going to attract private capital, create the jobs, and reduce the energy that is required to run those public facilities,” said Chivukula, D-Somerset.

Chivukula expects the program will help stimulate the solar and geothermal industries.

And Assemblyman Troy Singleton, one of the primary sponsors of the legislation, says one of its chief benefits will be economic.

“It is a job creator on steroids in my opinion. It is going to put a lot of people to work,” said Singleton, D-Burlington.

He said it will also spur environmental protection and safeguard the environment.

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