Approval of $190 million program expected to create about 700 green jobs
Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) today received approval to invest an additional $190 million to bring energy efficiency measures to residential customers, multi-family affordable housing units, municipal buildings and businesses such as cash-strapped hospitals. Approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the Energy Efficiency Economic Stimulus Program is expected to also boost the economy by creating an estimated 688 "green" utility and contractor jobs during the next two years.
This latest energy efficiency initiative expands a $46 million carbon abatement program, approved in November 2008, that has been offering energy audits, programmable thermostats, attic insulation and high-efficiency lighting upgrades to residents and businesses.
In addition to bringing these conservation benefits to more customers, this newest program increases the amount of dollars available to help hospitals in PSE&G's service territory take advantage of investment-grade audits and steps to reduce their energy use and expenses. Twenty-eight hospitals have already indicated interest in the program. About a dozen hospitals - including University Hospital in Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson and Princeton Healthcare in Princeton -- are in the process of undergoing investment-grade audits. Another eight will be scheduled as soon as the additional funding becomes available. About 290 of the estimated 688 jobs are expected to be created by the hospital work.
"This program is the latest step PSE&G has taken to boost energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases and create new green jobs," said Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G. "Customers who are struggling in this tough economy are already saving money by using less energy. And just as we are doing with our accelerated capital infrastructure investments, this stimulus initiative will bring new jobs to the state when they are needed most." During the next year, PSE&G and its contractors pledge to hire at least 100 graduates of the state's Green Job Training Program, which is overseen by the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The Energy Efficiency Economic Stimulus Program was filed under New Jersey's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) legislation, which encourages utilities to invest in conservation and energy efficiency programs as part of its regulated business. The plan approved today was the result of an agreement PSE&G reached with BPU staff, Department of the Public Advocate and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
The new expanded energy efficiency initiative offers programs for various targeted customer segments. Sub-programs for residential homes and small businesses in Urban Enterprise Zone municipalities, multi-family buildings, hospitals, data centers and governmental entities provides audits at no cost to identify energy efficiency measures. Customers could be eligible for incentives toward the installation of the energy efficiency measures. Other components of the stimulus include a program that provides funding for new technologies and demonstration projects, and a program to encourage non-residential customers to reduce energy use through improvements in the operation and maintenance of facilities.
The Board's decision will allow recovery of the investment through an energy-based charge. The average residential electric customer, who uses 6,960 kilowatthours annually, will pay $2.60 per year. The average residential gas heating customer, using 1,210 therms of natural gas annually, will pay $3.10 per year.