New Jersey Natural Gas Files To Extend SAVEGREEN Energy-Efficiency Programs Through 2016

New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) today submitted a filing to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) seeking to continue The SAVEGREEN Project® energy-efficiency programs for an additional four years. SAVEGREEN provides incentives, such as grants and on-bill repayment opportunities, to help NJNG customers upgrade their equipment and make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The program also supports the state’s Energy Master Plan (EMP) goals of lowering customer costs, reducing emissions and encouraging economic development. By seeking a multi-year extension, NJNG is looking to provide customers and contractors with greater stability when it comes to replacing their heating equipment or hiring new employees.

“SAVEGREEN has been an incredible success in helping customers choose energy efficient options and encouraging job creation,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Natural Gas. “Since the average homeowner replaces their furnace only once every 15 to 20 years, it is critically important that we help make upgrading to high-efficiency equipment the easy choice.”

In the filing, NJNG proposes to update its grant program consistent with upcoming changes to the U.S. Department of Energy’s minimum furnace efficiency standards, and provide customers with incentives to upgrade their water heating equipment, as well as their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Customers who install high-efficiency heating or water heating equipment will be eligible to receive a $300 grant. If both high-efficiency heating and water heating equipment are installed at the same time, customers can qualify for a $900 grant or the opportunity to participate in NJNG’s On-Bill Repayment Plan (OBRP) for up to $6,500 at zero percent interest for five years. After the work is complete, customers will receive a Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) audit performed at no cost by an NJNG Building Performance Institute-certified home energy auditor to identify other energy-efficiency opportunities available. As an added benefit, customers who complete the audit and install recommended seal-up and insulation measures within the first six months of the OBRP will be eligible to increase the level of their OBRP to a combined total of $10,000 and adjust the repayment term from five to 10 years.

Additionally, homeowners who initiate HVAC equipment upgrades through HPwES, using a whole house approach to energy efficiency, may also be eligible for participation in NJNG’s OBRP.

As proposed, these customers can continue to qualify for generous rebates through HPwES that may be as high as $5,000, as well as apply to fund the remaining energy-efficiency upgrade costs, up to $10,000, through the OBRP option.

Currently, NJNG offers customers who qualify for the WARMAdvantage program a no-cost home energy audit. Interested customers seeking an independent audit can also receive an HPwES audit for $250. In its filing, NJNG is proposing to offer these audits free of charge to customers who don’t qualify for Comfort Partners, the free weatherization program from New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, but have incomes at or below 400 percent of the Federal poverty level. The goal is to help middle-income customers identify energy-efficiency improvements that result in savings that meet or exceed the upgrade costs, resulting in a more comfortable home and greater energy savings.

New to SAVEGREEN’s suite of programs will be an oil tank removal grant. NJNG plans to offer oil customers who convert to high-efficiency natural gas heating equipment a grant of up to $800 for the removal of an above-ground tank or $1,200 for a below-ground tank. This program provides another opportunity to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas to meet customers’ needs and advance state policy goals.

NJNG’s filing also includes grant and financing opportunities for commercial customers. For small commercial customers with a peak demand of 200 kW or less, the utility proposes to match New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) SmartStart grants up to $15,000 for the installation of high-efficiency equipment, such as natural gas-fired furnaces, boilers and water heaters. For large commercial customers with a peak demand greater than 200 kW, it will match NJCEP grants up to $25,000. Additionally, commercial customers making upgrades through the NJCEP Direct Install program will qualify to participate in NJNG’s no-interest OBRP for the value of the project not covered by the state grant. Based on current NJCEP incentive levels, NJNG is proposing a maximum of $32,800 for eligible commercial customers for repayment over two years.

SAVEGREEN complements the state’s efforts to lower energy costs for New Jersey residents and businesses while also addressing environmental concerns and stimulating the economy - goals of the State’s EMP. Since inception in 2009, SAVEGREEN has created 27 full-time positions at NJNG, completed more than 15,000 energy audits and awarded nearly 17,000 grants for high-efficiency equipment upgrades. SAVEGREEN has also helped increase activity in the contractor market. In the last four years, the number of contractors participating in the program has grown from just over 100 to more than 1,000.

“With this filing, we are looking to build on our record of success helping our customers save energy and money in support of the state’s economic and environmental goals,” said Downes.

The current SAVEGREEN energy-efficiency programs are slated to run through December 31, 2012. If this proposal is approved by the BPU, NJNG will continue to provide SAVEGREEN programs through December 2016. For the typical customer using 100 therms a month, the rate impact for the proposed SAVEGREEN extension, as well as the current SAVEGREEN programs, is expected to be an increase of 1.7 percent, or $2.00. The proposed effective date for this change is January 1, 2013.

New Jersey Natural Gas

New Jersey Natural Gas is the principal subsidiary of New Jersey Resources, a Fortune 1000 company, that provides safe and reliable natural gas and renewable energy services, including transportation, distribution and asset management in states from the Gulf Coast to the New England regions, including the Mid-Continent region, the West Coast and Canada, while investing in and maintaining an extensive infrastructure to support future growth. With $3 billion in annual revenues, NJR safely and reliably operates and maintains 6,800 miles of natural gas transportation and distribution infrastructure to serve nearly half a million customers; develops and manages a diverse portfolio of 1.2 Bcf/day of firm transportation and over 60.2 Bcf of firm storage capacity; offers low carbon, clean energy solutions through its commercial and residential solar programs and provides appliance installation, repair and contract service to nearly 130,000 homes and businesses. Additionally, NJR holds investments in midstream assets through equity partnerships including Steckman Ridge and Iroquois. Through Conserve to Preserve®, NJR is helping customers save energy and money by promoting conservation and encouraging efficiency. For more information about NJR, visit www.njresources.com, “Like” us at facebook.com/NewJerseyNaturalGas or follow us on Twitter @NJNaturalGas.

Copyright Business Wire 2010

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