The state has given approval to New Jersey Natural Gas to spend $135 million over the next three years to help customers lower their bills by reducing energy use.
The authorization by the state Board of Public Utilities reflects a scaled-down version of a $341 million, six-year program initially filed by the Wall Township-based utility earlier this spring.
The extension of the existing energy-efficiency program aligns the company with Murphy administration goals to ramp up the state’s efforts to reduce electric and gas use in New Jersey, to help curb emissions contributing to climate change.
“Energy efficiency is one of the most effective ways we can help our customers to save energy and money, protect our environment and create a stronger and fairer clean energy economy,’’ said Steve Westhoven, chief operating officer of New Jersey Natural Gas.
Essentially, the program is an extension of the company’s popular SaveGreen Project, a comprehensive energy-efficiency program in which the utility has invested nearly $160 million to curb energy use since 2009. The program expires in December.
New Jersey utilities face stepped-up requirements to reduce energy use by customers under a significant clean-energy bill Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law this spring.
NJ Spotlight is hosting ain Newark, bringing together a panel of utility experts, state officials and others to discuss how to reduce energy use in New Jersey. It will be from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Robert Treat Hotel.
Underapproved Monday by BPU, the utility will spend $98.8 million on an array of residential energy-efficiency programs as well as another $36.3 million for commercial and industrial customers.
Beginning in January 2019, NJNG will roll out new and expanded offerings for residential and commercial markets, with programs and features for low- to moderate-income customers and public entities, to help eliminate barriers to energy efficiency and make the benefits more accessible.
These new offerings include Home Energy Reports that provide customized recommendations to reduce consumption and improve energy efficiency for participating homeowners. A free, online home-energy audit also will be available to help customers better understand their energy usage and opportunities for savings.
The agency also approved a $49 Home Energy Assessment that would be performed by one of NJNG’s certified auditors. This comprehensive, independent analysis is designed to help identify potential energy savings in the home. As part of the assessment, auditors will install low-cost energy saving devices, such as LED lightbulbs.
NJNG will promote low and moderately priced energy-efficient products, such as smart thermostats and no-cost weatherization kits. Rebates will help defray the cost of some items.
The average annual saving for the typical residential-heating customer is projected to be under $10, or 1 percent over the life of the program. If fully subscribed, it is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 million tons, according to the company.
For commercial and industrial customers, the utility will introduce new offerings to meet their specific needs, while continuing to support commercial programs offered by the New Jersey Clean Energy Program.