For immediate release Wednesday, June 21, 2023 Media contact: Nicole Kirgan (email@example.com; 732-691-3326)
NJ’s Clean Energy Fund Hangs in Balance as Legislative Leaders, Advocacy Groups Urge End to Raids in FY24 Budget
Cumulative impact of Murphy administration raids exceeds $500 million
New Jersey legislative leaders join business, labor, environmental, and health groups in urging the Murphy administration to end the annual practice of diverting money from the state’s Clean Energy Fund in the fiscal year 2024 budget.
“Diverting the Clean Energy Fund, paid for exclusively by ratepayers, year over year since 2010 has led to nearly $2 billion being lost that should have supported New Jersey’s transition to clean, renewable energy, along with the jobs, public health benefits and more affordable electricity bills that come with that transition,” said Debra Coyle, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council. “Additionally, the Clean Energy Fund is a key part of the funding equation to turn the recommendations within the Murphy administration's Green Economy Roadmap into reality. So once again, we’re calling on the legislature to pass a budget resolution to fully fund the Clean Energy Fund in fiscal year 2024.” More than 65 New Jersey organizations representing business, labor, faith, and environmental groups as well as more than 15 state legislators support Budget Resolution S. 385, which would finally end the raid.
Utility customers support the fund through the Societal Benefits Charge, a surcharge on their monthly bills. Residential cost averages $63-65 annually. New Jersey’s proposed FY24 budget anticipates a $71 million diversion from the fund to support New Jersey Transit’s operating budget. The state’s budgetary surplus is projected to exceed $8 billion. “We are simply asking that the state meet its obligations and direct funding where it is legislatively intended," said Doug O'Malley, Director, Environment New Jersey. “We deserve a sustainable funding program that supports both our transit and climate priorities. The Clean Energy Fund should not be shortchanged by endless budget raids, because these raids are shortchanging the Murphy administration's own priorities."
New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) released a report earlier this year detailing the state’s history of fund diversions. Lawmakers have raided the fund in every budget since fiscal year 2010, totaling nearly $2 billion. The report also highlights the state’s current reliance on non-renewable energy sources, which account for nearly 95% of the energy consumed in the state and 90% of the energy produced. “New Jersey will never meet its clean energy goals if state lawmakers continue raiding the Clean Energy Fund,” said Alex Ambrose, NJPP Policy Analyst. “Transitioning away from polluting fossil fuels is essential to advancing public health and creating good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy. This transition will only happen if the state prioritizes it, and that requires using the Clean Energy Fund for its intended purpose.”
Gov. Phil Murphy vowed during his gubernatorial campaign to immediately stop using the fund – intended to reduce fossil fuel reliance and grow the state’s clean energy economy – to plug unrelated budget gaps. The Christie administration shifted more than $1.5 billion in ratepayer funds to plug state budget holes. This practice has continued under Murphy. “These raids exacerbate public health and social inequities. Residents exposed to greater levels of air pollution, which consistently fall along race and class lines, are disproportionately burdened with detrimental health impacts that Clean Energy Fund investments are meant to address,” said Kim Gaddy, Founder, South Ward Environmental Alliance, and Environmental Justice Director, Clean Water Action. “The raids must be stopped immediately to allow our overburdened community members to access new local jobs and energy bill savings.”
“Every dollar raided from the Clean Energy Fund is a dollar that can’t be invested into projects to insulate and weatherize the homes of low-income families,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “This has to stop. The state’s firmer financial footing gives the governor and legislative leaders the ability to finally end one of the last remaining budget gimmicks. It’s time to end the raids to the Clean Energy Fund.”
At a 2017 news conference unveiling Murphy’s environmental justice agenda, he vowed to immediately stop the raid “to increase funding for energy efficiency programs and especially provide environmental justice communities the capacity to access new local jobs and revenue generation in the clean energy economy.”
In 2018, Murphy’s transition team published a report in which it recommended that the administration use “100% of the Clean Energy Fund to advance energy efficiency, grow the clean energy economy, and drive down carbon emissions.” Despite campaign pledges, the Murphy administration has diverted over $500 million to date. Now is the time to finally end these raids.