New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan promises a greener and more affordable vision for the use, management, and development of energy in the state through 2021 and beyond.

Richard S. Mroz, president of the Board of Public Utilities will discuss the impact of the utility industry on the state economy, addressing state energy costs and savings at an upcoming Princeton Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He will also speak about the accomplishments of New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program.

The event takes place Thursday, October 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Princeton Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, College Road East. Register by phone: 609-924-1776 or online at the events page at Tickets $70, $50 for members.

The state has made significant efforts in energy efficiency and renewable energy, says Mroz. The NJ Utility Association says that from 2001 through 2015, the state’s ratepayers have invested approximately $2.5 billion in all renewable energy, of which approximately $2 billion has been in solar (rebates and renewable credits).

“About 90 percent of solar installations have occurred in the Christie administration,” says Mroz. “New Jersey is the fourth leading state using solar energy in the country.” California has installed enough solar to power 3,319,000 homes; Arizona, enough to power 327,000; North Carolina, 223,000; and New Jersey, 257,000 thousand homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, based on 2015 data.

“Energy efficiency is one of the first efforts businesses can make to reduce costs,” Mroz says.

To help companies and homeowners cut back on energy usage and costs, BPU established the Office of Clean Energy to administer programs through New Jersey Clean Energy Program. The group promotes the use of solar, wind, geothermal, and sustainable biomass.

NJCEP provides several programs for commercial and government clients:

Benchmarking is a free service providing performance assessment and information on how to get a project started.

Local Government Energy Audits provide building analysis and audit reports and are available for municipalities, counties, state colleges and universities, and nonprofit agencies.

NJ SmartStart Buildings Program offers financial incentives for upgrading individual systems such as heating and cooling units, water heating, lighting, and more.

Pay for Performance is designed for larger buildings and offers a whole-building approach focusing on energy savings.

Direct Install serves existing small to medium-sized facilities and pays up to 70 percent of project costs for replacing equipment with energy efficiency alternatives.

Combined Heat & Power (CHP) and fuel cells systems produce both steam and electricity from an on-site single fuel source. As a result, heat is recovered rather than wasted during the generation of electricity.

Large Energy Users Program promotes self-investment in energy efficiency and combined heat and power project with incentives up to $4 million.

Food Service Equipment offers programs for restaurants desiring to upgrade their equipment to reduce energy costs.

Two of the organizations benefiting from NJCEP’s programs featured on its website are Princeton Windrows and Hamilton’s Mercerville Fire Department.

With a goal of streamlining and reducing its high operational and maintenances expenses, Princeton Windrows contracted an approved Pay for Performance partner to address its energy issues. An independent living community for residents 55 years or older, the Windrows includes 102 single family homes, 284 condominiums and community amenities.

Among several technology solutions, they replaced air conditioners with higher efficiency units and upgraded air ducts. In addition, they implemented a “green” culture among staff and residents, by turning off lights and air conditioning in the dining room when it was not being used.

The total cost of the project was estimated at $625,000 and the estimated incentives amount to $256,761. The simple payback of the capital investment is just over 2.5 years, and the estimated annual savings in energy expenses is $144,346.

The Mercerville Firehouse contacted NJCEP to remedy problems caused by an old boiler that frequently broke down and poor lighting in the engine bay that made it difficult to hold group trainings. Using the Direct Install Partner program, Hamilton Township officials invested in new, energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment, a new boiler, and lighting fixtures.

The total cost of the project was $125,664 and incentives equaled $87,965. The project payback is 2.9 years and the estimated annual savings is $12,961

Mroz praises New Jersey for its balanced energy portfolio, citing a broad spectrum of energy sources including natural gas, nuclear, distributed resources, and renewables. Offshore wind is still being considered, Mroz says. So far, proposals have been too costly but developers are still exploring feasibility studies.

Mroz, who refers to himself as a “New Jersey guy,” grew up in Camden and graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree and earned a law degree from Villanova Law School in 1986. Today Mroz is a member of Governor Chris Christie’s cabinet and has served as a commissioner and president of the Board of Public Utilities since 2014.

Before becoming president of the BPU, he worked in private practice as a lawyer and lobbyist as managing director of Archer Public Affairs in Trenton, and counsel to Archer & Greiner in Haddonfield.

From 1991 to 1993 Mroz served as the county counsel for Camden County. In 1993 former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman appointed him to the first of several senior positions in her administration.

Mroz says that in many of the positions he has served and in his current position, it has been an important goal to make New Jersey an affordable state for business.

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