New Jersey Diverts Clean Energy Funds

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has enacted deep budget cuts since taking office in January, is now taking aim at the Garden State’s highly touted Clean Energy Program.

Gov. Christie notified the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which oversees the program, that he is diverting $158 million in clean energy funds to help offset a $2.2-billion state budget deficit.

Environmentalists have expressed concern that dozens of clean energy programs may be scaled down, including a generous solar energy rebate program that has made New Jersey a leader in renewable energy. Another program facing the ax provides New Jersey residents with a $50 rebate for recycling their old refrigerators (the program includes free pickup).

“If we take this money (out of the budget), we’re basically stopping clean energy projects for the next two years,” Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey told the Record newspaper.

Established in 2003, the state’s Office of Clean Energy funds a diverse slate of renewable energy initiatives, including multimillion-dollar rebates to support offshore wind power production. New Jersey has established a goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources by 2020.

The BPU adopted a $269-million budget in December, of which $168 million was dedicated to rebate commitments for solar and other energy-efficient projects.

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