This comes under the “every cloud has a silver lining” category. Under state statute, all funds received in unclaimed property deposits from electric and gas utilities go into something called the Unclaimed Utility Deposits Trust Fund. And each year, 75% of those deposits are issued to a statewide nonprofit focused on energy assistance, designated by the Board of Public Utilities. According to state law, the funds must be used exclusively to pay for the restoration of electric or gas service, or to prevent the termination of electric or gas service of utility ratepayers seeking energy assistance. The remainder, which stays in the trust fund, is administered and invested by the State Treasurer; it’s used to pay unclaimed property claims and expenses and costs incurred by the State of New Jersey.
Yesterday, Treasury announced that its Unclaimed Property Administration this year had a record $3.2 million to help low- and moderate-income New Jersey households pay their utility bills. A check for that amount was presented to the Affordable Housing Association, which administers the assistance; that was almost double last year’s $1.7 million contribution.