New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to drain the state’s clean energy fund and revenue from the northeast cap-and-trade program to close gaps in the general budget.
Christie’s 2013 budget would eliminate $210 million that would otherwise give people rebates for buying efficient appliances or weatherization (clean energy fund) and $473,000 from its share of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) revenues.
Because of New Jersey’s clean energy fund, the state has jumped to the top of the country in solar installations. Christie also wants to reduce the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard for 2021 from 30% to 22.5% and puts the energy efficiency goal under review.
"The Governor is giving tax cuts to millionaires with the money that should be going to clean energy programs and protecting our environment," says Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club." This means not only more pollution, but it will cost NJ 3000 jobs in energy efficiency programs and solar installation."
Christie has already raided the clean energy fund for two years, draining it by over $400 million, reports the NJ Spotlight, and he’s taken $65 million from RGGI revenues, which are supposed to directly support efficiency and renewable energy.
In just three years as part of RGGI, NJ benefited form over $113 million, even after Christie’s diversion of millions of dollars. That money has supported energy retrofits and solar installations for homes and businesses, creating $150 million in economic activity and about 1,800 jobs, according to Analysis Group.
New Jersey will miss out on some pretty significant revenue from the RGGI. At a minimum, the state would bring in over $170 million between 2012-2018, and if emission caps are tightened, which is likely, the revenue would be $340 million – $680 million, according to an Environment New Jersey analysis.
The Democrat-controlled legislature passed a bill to re-instate RGGI, but Christie vetoed it last year.
In related news, Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (on track for 10% by 2015) has resultedin $100 million being invested in the state, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Its manufacturing backbone is making it attractive as a supply chain hub for the wind industry and local utilities are committed to using local equipment and labor.
Renewable energy now costs less than coal in Michigan! The average for all renewables combined is $91.19 per MWh compared to $133 per MWh for a new coal plant.
According to the Analysis Group report, "The Economic Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States,"
In the first 3 years of the RGGI:
- The regional economy has gained over $1.6 billion in economic value added
- Citizens have saved nearly $1.1 billion on electricity bills, $174 million on natural gas and heating oil bills, thanks to energy efficiency
- 16,000 jobs created
- Reduced demand for fossil fuels keeps more than $765 million in the local economy
Read the report: