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The Senate Environment and Energy Committee should not support the creation of new energy programs until the costs and the amount of funding they will need has been specified, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) said today.

S-359 would create the Clean Energy Technology Center and Alternative and Clean Energy Investment Trust Fund, but fund them with what amounts to an open-ended appropriation from the societal benefits charge. The bill is scheduled for a committee vote today, and NJBIA is urging the bill be held.

“NJBIA supports research and innovation in clean energy; by any measure, New Jersey is a leader in clean energy, both environmentally and economically,” said NJBIA Vice President Sara Bluhm. “But at the end of the day, ratepayers need affordable energy they can rely on.”

“New programs like this need to have proper cost controls,” Bluhm said. “Taxpayers and ratepayers need to know that government agencies will be accountable for how they spend the public’s money.

“The societal benefits charge collected $764 million in 2016 from ratepayers who already pay the 10th highest electricity rates in the nation,” Bluhm said. “We should be looking for ways to make New Jersey’s energy more affordable, especially since nearly one-fourth of the business electric bill goes to government-imposed taxes and fees.”