Wednesday, June 14, 2017

NJ's budget for funding clean energy shrinking again

Diversions may dip slightly, but funneling money away from its intended purpose has cost fund some $1.5 billion over past seven years

Tom Johnson reports for NJ Spotlight:

The state’s budget for funding clean energy is shrinking once again.
The Office of Clean Energy is proposing to spend $166 million in the upcoming year, down from the $208 million it expected to spend in fiscal year 2017 on new commitments for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other programs.
The state said it will maintain the overall clean energy budget at $344 million, the same level as the current year, but that number is inflated by money being diverted for other uses — paying utility bills at state buildings; patching holes in the state budget, which ends in June 30; and addressing issues at NJ Transit.
Those diversions, now at $208 million, will dip to $183 million, continuing a trend of relying on unspent Clean Energy Funds to pay for unrelated programs, a pattern that has cost renewable energy and energy-efficiency efforts more than $1.5 billion over the past seven years.
Those recurring raids have angered clean energy advocates and consumer advocates, mostly because the program is funded by a surcharge on customers’ gas and electric bills. Indeed, there is a bill pending in the Legislature (SCR-151) that would prohibit such diversions from occurring, although its future is uncertain.
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