NJ Utilities Ranked Near Bottom for Energy Efficiency
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently released their 2020 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The 2020 National Ranking shows that Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) has dropped down one rank to 42nd, and Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has dropped 7 ranks to 48th.
“New Jersey’s utilities have dropped again in a national rank for energy efficiency. This should be an alarm bell for the BPU as they consider giving the authority of energy efficiency back to utilities. New Jersey used to be a leader compared to other states. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution while creating green jobs. The people of New Jersey are losing the green jobs, paying higher electric bills, and breathing in more pollution because we aren’t making progress in energy efficiency,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey should be using the Clean Energy Fund to help people weatherize their homes, but they continue to rob the Fund for other purposes.”
The report found that, within the northeast, New Jersey’s two utilities earned the least number of combined points for program performance, program offerings, and enabling mechanisms. JCP& L was the lowest scoring utility for efficiency program performance, scoring only 2 points out of 26. The report did find that New Jersey’s two utilities scored well for rate design that encourages efficiency through low customer charges and time-of-use rates.
“Given their current performance and their past performance, we have real concerns in allowing utilities to be in control of energy efficiency. Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, New Jersey’s utilities were in charge of energy efficiency and they made no progress. That’s why BPU took the program away from them in the first place, and this scorecard shows that they are still failing. If BPU does give the authority of energy efficiency back to the utilities, there has to be very strict oversight. There also need to be demonstrable goals to reduce energy consumption by 2% a year, as mandated by a new law signed last year. These goals need to be based on real reductions and not fluctuations in weather and market trends,” said Jeff Tittel. “If these utilities take over for energy efficiency, there needs to be quantifiable standards to make sure that they are held accountable.”
The report mentioned that New Jersey’s Clean Energy Act of 2018 put policies in place that “signalled a new era of energy efficiency.” In the northeast, utilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut also declined. Only two utilities, PECO in Pennsylvania and NG NY in New York, showed improvement.
“Energy efficiency is an important way to grow our economy and protect against climate change but we haven’t been seeing all of its benefits yet. We spend more and see the least amount of outcome than any other state in the nation. We also continue to allow the Clean Energy Fund to be robbed, taking money away from important energy efficiency programs. Governor Murphy while campaigning promised to end the stealing of these funds but the pattern has continued,” said Jeff Tittel. “Without implementation, we won’t see reduced pollution or green jobs. We need to work with the BPU to implement these new goals and projects. Governor Murphy must also stop raiding the funds so we have the means to make it happen.”
New Jersey should be using the Clean Energy Fund to help people weatherize their homes and save money, but they continue to rob the Fund for other purposes. For every dollar invested by a homeowner they save $4 and for every dollar invested by a business they save $16.
“Some of these utilities are presenting major obstacles to our clean energy future with the nuclear subsidy bill and some of them coming out with their own energy plans to undercut the BPU. The nuclear subsidy legislation requires consumers have to buy 40% of electricity coming from nuclear power plants. The bill does not have a sunset provision, so this can go on indefinitely. If we have to buy 40% of our electricity from nuclear, we will never get to Governor Murphy’s 100% clean energy renewable goals. New Jersey stays hooked on nuclear power at the expense of renewables like solar and wind. It will essentially block our efforts to get to 100% renewable energy and will lead to a crash in our solar market,” said Jeff Tittel.
The final Energy Master Plan, which was unveiled earlier this year, defines “100% Clean Energy by 2050” to mean 100% carbon neutral electricity generation and maximum transition to electrification of the transportation and building sectors by 2050. Solutions to meet 100% clean energy include, PJM Solar, PJM Wind, Offshore Wind, NJ Solar, Gas, and Nuclear.
“New Jersey’s utilities are continuing to fall behind other states. We used to be a leader for clean energy and energy efficiency, and we can be again. However, we need real policies that support our goals for reaching 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon by 2050. Communities throughout New Jersey are being impacted by air pollution and new fossil fuel plants while our open spaces and environmentally sensitive lands are being targeted by pipeline after pipeline. This is why we need a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit to save money and reduce pollution, but New Jersey will miss these opportunities if we don’t have the policy and the funding behind them.”