The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) State Energy Efficiency Scorecard for 2016 has been released showing New Jersey’s drop to 24th in the nation. This scorecard ranks states on their policy and program efforts and recommends ways that states can improve their energy efficiency performance in various policy areas. New Jersey used to be 7th in the nation, however this year New Jersey dropped another three spots, to 24th. Massachusetts and California tied for the top spot. Before the Christie Administration, New Jersey was right behind these states when it came to renewable energy like solar and wind. Since his election, New Jersey’s efforts to switch from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy have been stalled.

 

“New Jersey has dropped three spots in a national rank for energy efficiency. Under the Christie Administration, we have gone from 7th to 24th. New Jersey used to be a leader compared to other states, but now we are paying the consequences because we do not have a standard. The people of New Jersey are losing the green jobs, paying higher electric bills, and breathing in more pollution without making progress in energy efficiency. The reason for this massive slide is because it is part of the Governor’s anti-environment and anti-climate change agenda,” 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 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. New Jersey could be a leader again in energy efficiency, but we may have to wait until the next Governor.”

 

The report mentions that New Jersey does not have an energy efficiency standard in place. New Jersey earned 4 out of 20 points for its utility policies and programs. It says that in New Jersey, “Regulatory adjustments to the utility business model, including decoupling and performance incentives that are aligned with specific energy savings targets, could incent greater efficiency achievements.” The scorecard only gave New Jersey 2 out of 7 points for state-led energy efficiency initiatives. We also scored low on combined heat and power policies: only 1.5 out of 4 points. Our score for transportation policies is a 6 out of 10 and our score for building energy code stringency and compliance efforts is 4 points out of 7.

 

“New Jersey would have dropped even further if the federal government had not required us to update our building codes. However, we had to fight for two years just for HUD to require the state to do so. We could be doing much more on combined heat and power as well as transportation. Energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit to save money and reduce pollution, but New Jersey is missing these opportunities,” said Jeff Tittel.

 

New Jersey was one of the first states to update its building energy codes to meet 2015 standards, though it included weakening amendments. However, a continued concerned in the ACEEE reports is that the existing utility business model does not encourage investment in energy efficiency. This is a result of New Jersey’s failure to work with utilities in lowering electricity and gas use. The report reflects what we’ve seen in our state government and that is the refusal of the Christie Administration to act on clean energy and set a standard for energy efficiency. Since Christie took Office, his administration has diverted over $1.3 billion in clean energy monies from the Clean Energy Fund to close budget gaps, costing jobs and adding air pollution.

 

“New Jersey continues to fall behind compared to other states because our Governor is more concerned with his national political ambitions than the environment of New Jersey. He has violated the Global Warming Response Act by eliminating programs to reduce carbon pollution. He pulled us out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, refused to regulate carbon as an air pollutant, rolled back our Energy Master Plan goals from 30% to 22.5%, blocked offshore wind, and diverted over a $1.3 billion from the Clean Energy Fund. His actions are having an impact on New Jersey with consequences to our health and environment,” said Jeff Tittel. “This report shows that the Clean Energy Fund has become the state legislature’s ATM. We should be using this money collected by ratepayers for what it is intended. Instead, the state has taken money from the Clean Energy Fund for all kinds of budget needs.”

 

New Jersey drop in energy efficiency is clearly the failure of the Christie Administration to move us forward with an energy efficiency standard that will help protect the environment, save people money, and create new jobs.

 

“Energy efficiency is a win-win-win, but our Governor has made us a loser. Energy efficiency cuts peak demand, preventing the use of weaker plants, which prevent blackouts, air pollution, and saves New Jersey residents’ money. 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. By reducing our energy demand and updating our building codes, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels New Jersey forward to a clean energy future. However, the only thing stopping us from that future is Governor Christie,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.