The New Jersey Senate's Environment Committee will hold a hearing Monday on a plan to phase out the diversion of money intended for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
The so-called societal benefits charge on electric and natural gas bills is supposed to be used for those programs, but over seven years New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says about $1.5 billion of that money has funneled into the state budget for other uses.
"That's a lot of money, and that's a lot of people who could be buying energy efficient appliances and getting new windows and their houses winterized, and it's become the great New Jersey heist."
David Pringle with Clean Water Action says ensuring the money is spent on its original purpose will benefit the state’s economy.
"For every dollar invested in energy efficiencies and renewables you get a three to four dollar economic return on the investment over time. So it really is critical that we get it done.”
A proposed constitutional amendment would gradually eliminate those diversions over a five-year period.
Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley doesn’t want to wait that long.
“We will need the next gubernatorial administration and this legislature to work together as quickly as possible to come cold turkey off of these raids.”