Commercial Businesses and the Clean Energy Fund

On December 20, NJ Spotlight reported that “NJ Firms Can Use Surcharge for Energy Efficiency Projects“. The report noted that after much effort and discussion, some of the Societal Benefits Charges (SBC) could now be used by business to establish a credit against their energy efficiency improvements.

The money for this will deplete the total amount of money that is available for use by others including those who rely on energy assistance as well as impact clean energy programs. The question is, does this make sense?

In part I agree that any program that encourages business to improve their energy conservation is a good idea. The problem with this program appears to be that we are borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

First, the legislature and the governor’s office elect to raid the clean energy fund for general purposes. This was a bad idea then and remains a bad idea now. Secondly, we reduce the availability of that money for those whom it was originally intended to help.

The simple fact is, the clean energy program is a good idea. I have stated before that it may need some help in improving its efficiency (pardon the pun), but the money should be used for the purpose that it was intended for in the first place.

I suspect that if the fund had not been raided, there would be enough money in place to successfully implement both ideas. Unfortunately, now that has been made less certain.

However, it is certainly a good idea to help businesses improve their energy efficiency. Energy efficient businesses are more competitive can help to generate more economic growth and generally benefit the economy as a whole.

By providing a greater economic incentive to business, one of the key hurdles to energy improvements, cost, will be more easily overcome. The idea is sound. The devil is in the details.

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