A new program in New Jersey will allow large commercial and industrial facilities to offset surcharges on their gas and electric bills to pay for energy-efficiency projects, NJ Spotlight reports.
The program gives some commercial users a credit against their Societal Benefits Charge (SBC) to pay up to one-half of the costs incurred for purchase and installation of products and services that will reduce their energy use.
The SBC is a fee tacked on to New Jersey utility bills to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and other “societal benefits.”
Business — especially big gas and electricity users — don’t like it, NJ Spotlight says because, in come cases, the surcharges total more than $1 million a year.
While corporations support the new program, established under a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie in January, consumer advocates say it may hurt residential customers if a large portion of the SBC funding is diverted to commercial and industrial customers.
According to the online news source, residential customers currently pay about $22.39 in SBC fees, while midsized commercial and industrial customers pay about $4,231.52 annually, and larger business customers pay at least $11,763 each year.
New Jersey, along with California and Arizona, leads the US in installing residential solar systems, according to a report a from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Neighboring New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August signed a series of bills jumpstarting a new program to bring more solar to the state. The NY-Sun Initiative’s goal is to double the amount of on-site electrical capacity produced in the state by solar PV in 2012 compared to 2011 and to quadruple that in 2013, with $104 million set aside in incentives.
A report published last month by Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) found government could sustain support of the solar and wind industries at much lower cost to taxpayers by replacing current tax credits with cash incentives. The report says that, for example, a taxable cash incentive for wind energy could deliver the same support to wind projects as current policy and almost halve the cost to taxpayers.
Photo Credit: New Jersey City University