The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has launched the Schools and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus (SSB) Program, a $180 million grant program for New Jersey schools and small businesses to repair or replace HVAC systems, plumbing fixtures, and appliances to meet efficiency and health standards.
The federally funded program will dedicate at least $135 million of its funding to schools and small businesses within underserved communities. NJBPU said it would begin approving applications on Dec. 1, 2021.
Outdated HVAC and plumbing systems are less efficient and more costly to operate than modern equipment, and often fail to meet current health and safety standards. The SSB program aims to facilitate the repair and replacement of these systems in order to reduce wasted energy and improve public health and safety, including a requirement that sinks, toilets, and urinals be touchless to help reduce the spread of germs.
“Through the Schools and Small Business grant program, we are putting the health of our children first and ensuring small businesses have access to the tools they need to cut energy and water costs and improve indoor air quality in their establishments,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso.
The SSB funding is subdivided into two programs: the School and Small Business Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair (SSB-VEEVR) Program; and the School and Small Business Noncompliant Plumbing Fixture and Appliance (SSB-NPFA) Program.
The SSB funding will cover 75 percent of the total cost for projects initiated under these programs, while the other 25 percent must come from outside sources. The programs include a cap of $5 million per school district and $500,000 per small business to ensure more entities can participate.
The program was created under a law Gov. Phil Murphy signed in Aug. 24. The prime sponsors of the legislation were Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), Senator Troy Singleton (D-7), and Assembly members Pamela Lampitt (D-6), Wayne DeAngelo (D-14), and Thomas Giblin (D-34).
“This investment is a critical piece of our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, providing economic incentives to update HVAC systems to current health and safety standards while creating thousands of job opportunities across New Jersey,” Sweeney said. “School districts and small businesses have an opportunity to reduce operating costs through energy efficiency while ensuring cleaner air inside their classrooms and facilities.”