N.J. public hearing to put spotlight on how renewable energy money is being diverted

 (NewsWorks file photo)

(NewsWorks file photo)

New Jersey lawmakers are seeking public input on whether the state should stop diverting money intended for renewable energy programs. 

The state Senate’s Environment Committee hearing is looking at a so-called societal benefits charge on electric and natural gas bills that is supposed to be used for renewable energy but over the past seven years $1.5 billion of that money was spent on other things, according to New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel.

“That’s a lot of money, and that’s a lot of people who could be buying energy efficient appliances and getting new windows and their houses winterized, and it’s become the great New Jersey heist.”

David Pringle with Clean Water Action said ensuring the money is spent on its original purpose will benefit the state’s economy.

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“For every dollar invested in energy efficiencies and renewables you get a three to four dollar economic return on the investment over time. So it really is critical that we get it done.”

A proposed constitutional amendment would gradually eliminate those diversions over a five-year period.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley doesn’t want to wait that long.

“We will need the next gubernatorial administration and this legislature to work together as quickly as possible to come cold turkey off of these raids.”

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