The state is overhauling its efforts to deliver energy savings to customers in multiple-family dwellings, a sector that has been underserved and hard-to-reach for New Jersey’s vast array of energy efficiency programs.
The programs for multifamily units are being redesigned by consultants hired by the state with the aim of incorporating a simpler and less confusing system for reducing energy use financed by New Jersey’s Clean Energy program.
The program has helped propel huge increases in the number of solar projects in New Jersey — yesterday it topped 90,000 systems installed, according to the state Board of Public Utilities — and racked up energy savings by replacing inefficient lighting and moving to more efficient boilers and appliances.
Delivering to customers who may not be as well off as others receiving rebates and various incentives has been a big obstacle. Those rebates and incentives are paid by virtually all electric and gas customers on their monthly energy bills — even though many fail to receive any benefits from the surcharge, dubbed the societal benefit charge.
“Every ratepayer paying into the fund should have the benefit of savings,’’ said Jim Grevatt, a managing consultant for the Energy Futures Group, which helped run a hearing yesterday in Trenton. “It’s a very underserved and hard-to-serve market.’’
The overall objective of the redesign is to lower energy bills by maximizing savings per dollar spent, Grevatt said. But the proposed overhaul failed to include details on incentives for each program, or the overall budget for the multifamily program.
To try and make the program more effective, the state is looking to roll a range of energy efficiency initiatives into a multifamily program, a step officials view will eliminate confusion and make it more accessible to owners and developers of multi-family units. Individual apartment owners would not be eligible, according to the current contours of the program.
The program is expected to be rolled out on a transition basis next January, according to officials. Some of the details are still up in the air, awaiting a decision by Gov. Phil Murphy on a bill that would revamp New Jersey’s energy efficiency programs. The bill is expected to be signed by the governor before June.
The so-called clean-energy bill would require the state’s electric utilities to cut customer consumption by 2 percent and gas utilities to reduce usage by a more modest amount.