Municipalities to Cash In on Energy Saving

NEW JERSEY'S municipalities are set to cash in on energy saving with the help of state grants and after benefitting from federal stimulus money.

Tom Johnson reports in NJ Spotlight that the state’s local governments are facing another year of belt tightening, but many towns and counties are banking on cutting their energy bills by undertaking a wide range of energy efficiency projects.

Many have applied for federal stimulus money earmarked for energy efficiency, 494 local governments in New Jersey (NJ), including a handful of county governments, have also applied to the state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to perform energy upgrades at their facilities.

According to Greg Reinert, a spokesman for the BPU, around 90 percent of the 512 municipal and county governments eligible to participate in the programme are applying to the Energy Efficiency Conservation Grant block programme.

The towns and counties are eligible to receive up to $20,000 from the federal stimulus programme, which ended last month but is yet to allocated, which can be supplemented with money from the New Jersey Clean Energy Direct Install programme.

Reinert revealed that based on the grants already awarded, the average governmental entity is expected to reap savings of approximately $18,000 annually on their energy bills through upgrades.

"What makes these energy efficiency programs so advantageous is that little or no matching funding is required," said BPU President Lee Solomon.

Additionally, a county or municipal government, can, in many cases, fully fund the energy efficiency projects by combining federal grants with financial incentives from the state’s Clean Energy programme, which is what the NJ town of Millburn did.

Millburn’s total project cost of $52,567, including upgrades to lighting and HVAC systems in the municipal building.

With a Direct Install incentive of $31,540 and a $20,000 federal grant, the project has a net cost to the towns of $1,027, which it expects to recoup in less than two weeks. Overall, the town expects to save $63,000 on its energy bill each year after the upgrades.

Under the state’s energy master plan, New Jersey has set a goal of reducing its energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, a target many officials say may be difficult to achieve.

Picture by Gryffindor

Friday 7th January 2011

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