New Jersey grants will help 46 communities make clean energy plans

A Solar Landscape installation in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) today approved Community Energy Plan Grants (CEPG) for 46 municipalities throughout New Jersey, totaling $820,000. In late 2021, the Board redesigned the program to incorporate a greater emphasis on equity and overburdened municipalities. The redesigned program also simplified the grant application process and reduces barriers to program utilization.

The CEPG program empowers local communities to create community energy plans that align with the State’s Energy Master Plan, the roadmap to reaching Governor Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. The program encourages communities to create localized community energy plans to combat climate change with a specific focus on equitable access, energy resilience, renewable energy and efficiency.

“Municipalities have tremendous authority over our energy future,” said Randall Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Board of Public Utilities to create a program that helps municipalities comprehensively identify and implement strategies to address climate change and build a sustainable energy future.”

Sustainable Jersey will be providing technical assistance to grant applicants and in the creation of community energy plans for overburdened municipalities.

There are two grant award levels in the redesigned program. All municipalities are eligible for $10,000 awards. However, overburdened municipalities are eligible for a larger award of $25,000, as well as enhanced support, including technical assistance to develop and submit an application and assistance in creating a plan if a grant is awarded. Overburdened municipalities were defined using both the Department of Environmental Protection’s “Overburdened Community” census tract data and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Municipal Revitalization Index.

In awarding the grants, the Board found that the 46 municipalities all submitted complete applications and thus were eligible to receive a grant. Overall, 24 of the 46 approved applications are from overburdened municipalities. By redesigning the grant program, the Board was able to increase access to communities who historically have had a low participation rate in State clean energy initiatives and move closer to reaching Governor Murphy’s clean energy goals.

News item from NJBPU

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