The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a $25,000 Community Energy Planning grant for Bergen County to develop a community energy plan by using New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan as a blueprint to create goals and strategies to increase clean energy production and reduce energy use.
The Board of Public Utilities says this marks the first such grant awarded under a new program the board approved in 2019.
“Bergen County is excited to receive and take part in the Community Energy Plan grant program,” Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said. “Protecting our environment and investing in clean energy are important to our state and our county’s future. Our planet is the most precious resource we have, and it is vital that we do everything in our power to preserve our environment for future generations.”
The NJBPU says Community Energy Planning grants are tools for individual communities that want to create a cleaner environment together with residents. The program provides seed money to help communities develop a Community Energy Plan, which can be particularly helpful for low- to moderate-income and environmental justice communities that face a disproportionate number of barriers to access the benefits of clean energy.
The grants can support such activities as working with municipal staff to bring local government, businesses, and community organizations together, or hiring an energy services planner to help assess clean energy opportunities, benchmark energy demand, and determine mechanisms to reduce aggregate energy use.
The grant approved Friday follows Gov. Phil Murphy’s unveiling of his comprehensive Energy Master Plan in January.
In creating a community energy plan, communities assemble a task force of local stakeholders that could include government officials, school officials, business leaders, environmental groups, residents and transportation partners. The task force establishes benchmarks for energy consumption, energy generation, emissions, vehicle miles traveled, and other important metrics. The benchmarks then help the community identify priorities and establish goals, strategies, and milestones within it.