NJ Groups Urge Gov. Murphy to Fulfill Promise By Ending Clean Energy Fund Raids in FY24 Budget

Media Contacts

Trenton – New Jersey labor, environmental, health and advocacy groups gathered at the State House to urge Governor Phil Murphy, amid fiscal year 2024 budget planning, to deliver on his promise and stop raids on the Clean Energy Fund (CEF). More than 50 organizations also sent the Murphy administration a letter in October, urging an end to CEF raids.

The press conference coincided with the release of a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) detailing the state’s history of CEF diversions. The report, Stop the Raids: The Clean Energy Fund Should Fund Clean Energy, finds that lawmakers have raided the fund in every budget since fiscal year 2010, totaling nearly $2 billion. The report also highlights the state’s current reliance on non-renewable energy sources, which account for nearly 95 percent of the energy consumed in the state and 90 percent of the energy produced. The report recommends that state lawmakers use the CEF for its stated goals of financing clean energy investments and incentivizing the use of renewable energy.

“It is time to end the raids on the Clean Energy Fund. New Jersey weathered the pandemic’s financial storm, and now is the time for Gov. Murphy to fully fund the Clean Energy Fund by ending these ongoing raids,” said Doug O’Malley, Director, Environment New Jersey. “It’s time to fight climate change without holding one hand behind our backs. This is the year to end these raids. Clean Energy Fund raids slow down the transition to a clean renewable energy future. We urge Gov. Murphy to use his FY24 budget to finally fulfill his pledge to end these raids.”

Murphy vowed during his gubernatorial campaign to immediately stop using New Jersey’s CEF – intended to reduce fossil fuel reliance and grow the state’s clean energy economy – to fund unrelated budget gaps. The Christie administration shifted more than $1.5 billion in ratepayer funds to plug state budget holes. This practice has continued under Murphy.

“New Jersey will never meet its clean energy goals if state lawmakers continue raiding the Clean Energy Fund to plug budget holes,” said Alex Ambrose, NJPP policy analyst and report author. “The state’s reliance on fossil fuels threatens the health and safety of everyone in the state, especially people of color who disproportionately live closest to sources of pollution. The Clean Energy Fund is one of the best tools we have to improve air quality, invest in clean energy technology, and help families afford new, energy-efficient appliances — but only if it’s used for its intended purpose.”

“The effects of the global climate crisis are negatively impacting New Jerseyans more every year, from the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events to greater stress on vital infrastructure,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action. “The pain of climate change will be shouldered primarily by low- and moderate-income families. New Jersey cannot abandon these residents by diverting essential funds away from fighting the growing climate catastrophe simply to plug budget holes.”

Utility customers support the CEF through the Societal Benefits Charge (SBC), a surcharge on their monthly bills. Residential cost averages $63-65 annually. At a 2017 news conference unveiling Murphy’s environmental justice (EJ) agenda, he vowed to immediately stop the raid “to increase funding for energy efficiency programs and especially provide environmental justice communities the capacity to access new local jobs and revenue generation in the clean energy economy.”

“This clean energy funding will create more jobs and more opportunities to build a truly equitable and sustainable New Jersey recovery,” said Kevin Brown, Service Employees International Union Vice President and NJ State Director for Local 32BJ. “We need our state’s leaders to combine these dollars with monumental federal investments coming to New Jersey to support our renewable energy future. A failure to do so means our children and grandchildren will inherit a less safe, clean, and healthy Garden State.”

“It is no longer controversial that using clean energy funds for their intended purpose—promoting and supporting clean energy programs that will improve health outcomes for those affected by environmental hazards—is a net benefit to our people,” said Barbara Rosen, Vice President, Health Professionals and Allied Employees. “Doing this will help us reduce hospitalization for cardiovascular or respiratory issues, heart attacks and asthma exacerbations, and premature deaths.”

“The Clean Energy Fund is critical to NJ’s commitment to lower its carbon emissions and it simultaneously increases demand for the necessary retrofits that creates opportunities to develop a trained workforce that will bring health, safety, comfort and savings to NJ residents. These funds are there for that purpose. We ask Governor Murphy to follow through on his commitment to stop the clean energy fund raids,” said Andre Thomas, Training Manager for the Center for Energy & Environmental Training.

“New Jersey has led the way with solar and wind programs, but we need to conserve and make better use of clean solar and wind energy,” said Ed Seliga, Co-owner, Advanced Solar Products, Inc. “The state is diverting funds needed to support that. The clean energy program was designed to help low-income residents and small businesses reduce costs and be more competitive. We’re paying the price and not getting what we paid for. It’s time to throw the switch back to full funding and accelerate our progress to a clean energy future. Pirating the funds is purely a delay.”

“The enactment of the 2018 Clean Energy Act and the ensuing policy actions taken by the Governor and Board of Public Utilities have boosted businesses like Franklin Energy while accelerating the clean energy transition, creating skilled-trade jobs, and improving public health,” said Lloyd Kass, Vice President, Market Development and Regulatory Strategy, Franklin Energy. “Franklin Energy is committed to help New Jersey residents and businesses lower their energy costs, particularly in disadvantaged communities served by programs like Comfort Partners. Redirecting critical funding intended for BPU energy efficiency programs creates a riskier market for businesses like ours, which can negatively impact investment decisions and the positive outcomes resulting from our work in New Jersey communities.”

“Actions speak louder than words. New Jersey is not putting our money where our mouth is. The Governor and the legislature continue the longstanding practice of raiding the state’s Clean Energy Fund and failing to identify a permanent funding source for NJ Transit, which severely hampers New Jersey’s efforts to reduce traffic, cut carbon pollution, and address the climate crisis,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “The tens of millions of dollars raided each year from the fund should be used to support our clean energy programs. Anything else is not only bad government, but it is a disservice to the New Jerseyans who trust their elected officials to do the right thing when it comes to mitigating climate change.”

“Raiding the Clean Energy Fund is an injustice, particularly for New Jersey’s environmental justice communities,” said Kim Gaddy, Founder, South Ward Environmental Alliance and Environmental Justice Director, Clean Water Action. “Diverting funds, intended for home energy efficiency programs like Comfort Partners, is not only a missed opportunity for more low-income families to save money on their energy bills but also hampers the state’s ability to reach its clean energy goals. The raids must be stopped immediately for our community members to access new local jobs and energy bill savings.”

In 2018, Murphy’s transition team published a report in which it recommended that the administration use “100% of the Clean Energy Fund to advance energy efficiency, grow the clean energy economy, and drive down carbon emissions.”

“The raids of the Clean Energy Fund must stop for the good of New Jersey’s economic and climate future,” said Alli Gold Roberts, Senior Director, State Policy, Ceres. “There is strong corporate support for investing in energy efficiency, energy storage, building electrification and more. Each dollar allocated away from the Clean Energy Fund reduces the benefits enjoyed by New Jerseyans in terms of energy cost savings and protecting our climate and public health.”

Despite campaign pledges, the Murphy administration has diverted over $500 million to date. In the 2023 state budget, Murphy shifted $82 million from the fund to plug budget holes elsewhere, “mainly to NJ Transit’s operating budget.

“NJ Transit needs funding, but robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the way to fund a transit system,” said Jaqi Cohen, Director of Climate and Equity Policy at Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Instead of establishing a progressive revenue source to help pay for New Jersey’s public transit service, Governor Murphy has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor by continuing raids on the state’s vital Clean Energy Fund, a program critical to reducing New Jersey’s dependence on fossil fuels. We call on Governor Murphy to honor his commitment and end the raids on the Clean Energy Fund.”

Transitioning our state to the clean energy economy has the potential to create thousands of good paying jobs, fight climate change, and improve our communities, but to reach this future, we need intentional investment,” said Deb Coyle, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council. “Raiding the Clean Energy Fund over the past decade plus has limited our state’s ability to reach our full clean energy potential while creating an equitable transition, and Governor Murphy must end the raids in this year’s budget to fulfill his promise.”

“The Clean Energy Fund, paid for exclusively by ratepayers, is responsible for many important programs that both help us transition to a clean energy economy and make the benefits of that transition accessible to thousands of lower income New Jerseyans every year,” said Drew Tompkins, Director, Jersey Renews Coalition. “It’s time to once and for all end the raids to the Clean Energy Fund to ensure the fastest, most equitable transition to our clean energy future is possible.”

“Protecting the Clean Energy Fund in the FY24 budget is critical to expanding a wide range of programs to reduce pollution, accelerate the development of equitable clean energy, and create family-sustaining jobs,” said Elowyn Corby, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, Vote Solar. “We’ve seen health risks directly linked to air pollution exposure, which consistently falls along lines of race and class, meaning that raids to the Clean Energy Fund do further damage in the most overburdened communities.”

“Sealed helps New Jersey homeowners make their homes more comfortable and efficient by investing our own capital into the performance of energy-saving improvements like insulation and heat pumps,” said Andy Frank, co-founder and president of Sealed. “But we can’t do this alone, and the co-investment that comes from the Clean Energy Fund plays a big role making energy efficiency affordable for millions of New Jersey homeowners. NJ needs to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to embracing and encouraging investment in clean, sustainable homes.”

“Clean Energy Fund programs are critical tools for reducing energy bills, improving energy efficiency, and helping to create a more sustainable clean energy economy,” said Scott Fischer, Managing Member, Ciel Power, LLC. “These programs also represent some of the most cost-effective ways to reduce harmful carbon emissions. To fully realize these benefits, however, these dedicated funds must only be used for their intended purpose.”

“It is known that households living in weatherized homes save on average of about $200 to $300 a year. With more funding for the insulation and weatherization programs we will be able to help households in disadvantaged communities, reduce carbon emissions, and generate local jobs, and help companies like mine throughout the county and state,” said Devin Gaydos, owner of DJG Insulation LLC, based out of Toms River.

“As a business owner and energy expert, I can attest to the critical role that the Clean Energy Fund plays in helping to speed the transition to a healthier, clean energy economy,” said Dennis Wilson, Founder, Sunowner, Inc. “These funds are raised with the promise that they will be invested in specific programs that will benefit the businesses and taxpayers that are required to pay into them. That promise must finally be honored.”