The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has awarded New Jersey SHARES, a statewide fuel fund, $2.8 million in proceeds from a December auction of carbon dioxide emissions allowances.
New Jersey is one of ten states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a coalition working to limit carbon dioxide pollution through a cap and trade system, whereby the participating states limit the amount of CO2 that can be emitted by their power plants. The state has participated in two of the three carbon emissions auctions.
Of the $32 million the state has raised from the auctions thus far, about 20 percent has been allocated to the BPU for programs to reduce electric demand or electric costs for customers of low and moderate income.
In January, the BPU issued a solicitation for proposals for an emergency program to reduce costs to electricity customers with limited incomes (up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level), and facing crisis situations such as a shutoff notice for electric service. It awarded the $2.8 million to New Jersey SHARES on April 3.
The money came to the fuel fund just in time; a newspaper article published April 12 quoted officials as saying the fund had spent a $10 million grant it received from the state in January at a rate of $1 million per week. More than 13,000 middle-class families that didn't qualify for LIHEAP and other low-income assistance flooded New Jersey SHARES with requests to pay overdue utility bills before their heat and electricity bills were shut off, the article said. Many of the families, including some who had previously earned up to $85,000 a year, had never asked for help before, said Jim Jacob, executive director.
The BPU is currently seeking comments on whether it should spend the $3 million it was allocated from the third auction held March 18 on programs to reduce electricity demand or on programs to reduce electricity costs to low and moderate income households.
Source: NJ Shares, NJ BPU, newspapers